(Review originally written at 1 June 2004)

Before I saw "Saving Private Ryan" I wasn't interested in anything WWII related. Every time there was a documentary on I would change the channel, I couldn't stand classics such as "The Guns of Navarone", "The Eagle Has Landed" and "The Longest Day", I even didn't liked "Schindler's List". And then I saw "Saving Private Ryan"...

"Saving Private Ryan" is more than just an ordinary war movie. Its realism makes it important to watch for the entire world. It shows the horrors of war in a very direct way. It is mainly important to see for the young generation these days and those to come. Sure you can watch tons of documentaries and read dozens of books but watching this movie is the closest you can get to the real thing, it's that realistic.

The first 30 minutes is a real wake up call. The Normandy invasion is really impressive and made very realistic with lots of noise and body parts flying around. The cinematography and the sound makes you feel like you are right in the middle of it. Yes, after that the movie becomes a bit slow but it never becomes uninteresting. The movie takes its time to build up the characters. As a result there follow some typical Spielberg sentiments but in this case I'll forgive him for that, I even forgive him for some of the American patriotism he puts in the movie.

The D-Day landing isn't the only impressive thing about this movie. All of the battle sequences are filmed in an unique and very realistic way. The final battle is very tense, especially in the beginning when the tension gets build up right before the battle begins and you can hear the tanks approaching while the men nervously await. My heartbeat went at least 3 times faster than normal.

I also like the portrayal of the German soldiers. In most other earlier movies they were portrayed as the ultimate bad guys that love to march and kill and follow every order they receive without thinking for them selves. In "Saving Private Ryan" they are more portrayed as just soldiers. Sure they do some bad things in the movie but so do the American soldiers, shooting surrendering Germans for instance. "Saving Private Ryan" show that there are no real good guys in war, which is very close to the truth I think.

The characters are very realistic with real emotions. It also doesn't matter in the movie if you're a main character or the most interesting character of the movie, just like in real life everybody is vulnerable. The characters are wonderfully portrayed by an at the time and still relatively unknown cast, with the exception of Tom Hanks and Matt Damon of course

The movie and its style set the standards for many later war movies to come but none of them comes really close to this masterpiece.


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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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