#19- Saving Private Ryan (1998)

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Who's List Was This On
- Adam Kaplan: # 15
- Bryan Hernandez: t-#16

Directed By: Steven Spielberg
Written By: Robert Rodat
Starring: Tom Hanks, Edward Burns, Tom Sizemore, Barry Pepper, Adam Goldberg, Vin Diesel, Giovanni Ribisi, and Matt Damon

The Plot

In war torn and Nazi-controlled Europe during WWII, Capt. John Miller (Hanks) and his unit must find Private James Francis Ryan in order to bring him back safely to his mother in the United States.

Why This Movie Is Great
How do you find decency in the hell of warfare?
-Steven Spielberg-

In my mind, there is no greater war movie than Saving Private Ryan. No disrespect to Apocalypse Now, Full Metal Jacket, Platoon, Black Hawk Down or any other war movie you can think of Saving Private Ryan is the best war film of all time. Every war film talks about the horrors of war and how terrible it is and how lives are ruined and the duality of man and all that jazz, but no movie pulls it off better than Saving Private Ryan. It is the best shot war movie ever, visually stunning, and character driven, yet still manages to keep you entertained throughout the entire time. That's part of the problem I had with movies like Apocalypse Now and Full Metal Jacket- they are great, fantastic movies made by some of the best filmmakers of all time, but holy crap do they get boring. I respect the artistic vision of the movie, but at the same time, it is still a movie and I still need to take three hours out of my day to sit through it.

First of all, there can be no mention of Saving Private Ryan without talking about its opening scene when the Americans invaded on D-Day. It might be the best opening shot in the history of cinema. You actually felt like you were in battle and fighting along with the soldiers. It was gruesome, it was bloody, and that's exactly what war was like. While much (deserved) credit goes to Spielberg for that opening war battle, I think many people forget how amazing the climax of Ryan was. Every war scene was just incredible. Every scene was just incredible and Spielberg along with his director of photography Janusz Kaminski just did an incredible job with the film.

However, much of the movie does not consist of battle scenes. They are scenes between Capt. Miller and his unit and it's the great acting by Hanks and his crew that really carry this movie. Plus, any movie that can make you say, "Wow, Vin Diesel is not a half bad actor" should really tell you something.

Ultimately, the movie and its characters struggle with the question, "How valuable is a life?" Eight men sacrifice their lives just so just one can live. Why should one man have to die just so another one can survive? It's a great question and one ethics and morality professors still can't answer. That being said, Spielberg does a fantastic job when trying to find to in the 1998 classic Saving Private Ryan.