Steven Spielberg has a record for making films that are fantastical and the stuff of dreams. From the "Indiana Jones" series to "A.I.", many of his films delve into fantasy. And he's very good at that. One of the best for sure. But, to me at least, Spielberg is at his best when his films are more realistic. Films that come to mind are "The Color Purple", "Schindler's List", and of course, "Saving Private Ryan".
Telling the story of a group of American soldiers landing on Normandy, "Saving Private Ryan" captures the most real aspects of war. And war is scary; there's blood and guts everywhere for a good 10 minutes before you even get to learn the character's names.
This group of soldiers, led by Colonel John Miller, played by Tom Hanks, is ordered to locate and return Private James Ryan, played by Matt Damon. Due to the recent deaths of Ryan's three brothers in the war, he has been recalled from duty to return to his mother. The soldiers struggle with the concept that their mission involves the rescue of one soldier. After all, how could one soldier be more important than all of them?
This realistic look at war dives right into the worst of war, leaving no details out for a potentially meek audience. Spielberg knew when making this film that it was truly an experience, even requesting that once the movie started, no more people could enter.
"Saving Private Ryan" is made to make to cringe and feel kinda sick. It is an intense film and that should be made aware before anyone sees it. That being said, it's totally awesome at the same time.
The movie captures the audience and refuses to let go until the very end. You begin to feel for the characters because their personalities and struggles are so realistic. You hardly even notice that the character of Pvt. Ryan doesn't enter the film until there's only and hour left.
One of the things the film does really well is that it is very symmetrical. There is a clear beginning and end, and they mirror each other in a way that clearly states "Yeah, I just blew your mind."
"Saving Private Ryan" isn't just another war film; it doesn't center on one main character, it is brutal, and it truly captures that time period and what it must have been like. Spielberg can add this one to his masterpiece collection, which, at this rate, sooner or later is going to overflow.
Flawed main characters - Oscar
High-billed actors - Box Office and Oscar
Notorious director/writer - Oscar and Box Office
Unique and creative direction - Oscar
Entrances the audience - Box Office