Movie Review: Saving Private Ryan

In World War II, millions died fighting against the tyranny of Adolf Hitler. Captain Miller and his small team of soldiers have been commanded to save a private who has lost all of his brothers in action. Then, to return him home to his mother. In order to do this however, they have to cross territory covered in Germans. It is a mission which many in the company disagree with, but they follow orders, and we watch them make an unforgettable journey to save private Ryan.

This time, the mission is a man.

Things I liked
The brotherhood found in the soliders is one of the most admirable things in this movie. The men all are ready to lay down their life for each other at a moments notice. What’s more admirable though, is the movie shows the men aren’t just macho soliders, but they have feelings, families, and care about more than just being tough. There are some incredibly touching moments where the talk about home and what they miss, what they look forward to going back to, and what they are protecting. The talk about their mothers, their hopes, their dreams. None of them enjoy fighting, none of them want to be there. Many do sacrifice themselves for others, and some die trying to protect civilians. They embody the ultimate ideal of selflessness, putting others before self each and every time.
The soliders also persevere to the end of their mission against incredible odds. Many times they think about just quitting or giving up, but they don’t.

Mercy is trait we see occasionally. An enemy is allowed to live, even after killing a fellow solider.

I also appreciated the way war was shown. While it was not enjoyable in the least, for the first time, I began to understand what soliders went through on D-day and everyday battles.

Things I didn’t Like
You know what I said about Braveheart, it being the most violent film I’ve ever seen? I take that back one hundred percent. The first five minutes of this movie made my hands go numb. I almost turned it off actually. When the soliders storm the beach, the result is one of the most gory and graphic 5 minutes you’ll ever see. Soliders are shot with machine guns and we see their bodies peppered with gunfire, we hear the moans, screams, and see the blood.
But it gets worse. The men who aren’t shot to death are impaled with schrapnel and mortars. One man’s arm is blown off. He numbly picks it up and tries to put it back on. Then he is gunned down. Guts, intestines, and other body parts are strewn across the beach, and the men who haven’t died scream for someone to kill them. Blood is everywhere and often splashes onto the camera lens. Close-ups of men being shot in the head are common. Medical teams trying to save some soliders are shown covered in the patient’s blood, while the mortally wounded soliders are screaming and thrashing.
After the beach is taken, german soliders are gunned down mercilessly. The few America soliders who made it past the slaughter of the beach laugh maniacally as they gun down the germans who have surrendered.

After the first five minutes, things lessen, but are not less graphic. We see the sniper of the group kill many people, a man is killed and the group is helpless to save him. We watch him bleed to death. In a final scene soliders are shot and blown to bits. A one-on-one struggle results in a man being stabbed with a knife. It is shown he resists to his last, so the blade goes in slowly and we see and hear the crunch of tissue as it pierces his heart.

Other graphic and disturbing images include seeing soliders wounded after a battle marching back. Another time a solider is mortally wounded within the group and his comrades try to save him. The result is a dead man and the entire group covered in blood. After each battle, the dead and dying are shown as flyovers show the immense death and destruction which has been wrought.

The Soliders have extremely dirty mouths. This may be accurate, it is still deplorable and repulsive. Crude sexual innuendo, jargon, and functions are joked about. There are dozens of F words, and more of other forms of profanity. Christ’s name is abused, as is the Lord’s many times.

Closing thoughts
Saving Private Ryan is a film which is unapologeticly raw. It shows the raw emotions of soliders fighting for their families. It shows the raw reactions of men in combat. It shows the raw horror of war in a way which only begins to capture the reality of those battles. Never again will I read the history of World War II (or any war) the same way. Never again will I look at a field of white crosses and not give it a second thought. I thought the movie “Act of Valor” showed me what war was truly like. I was wrong.

This movie isn’t honorable. It isn’t respectable. It isn’t enjoyable.

It is however, powerful. Powerful in the manner which it displays so tragically the acts of selflessness, the bonds of brotherhood, and the spirit of the heart.

I’ll be honest with you, this is the first (and only so far) movie which brought me to tears. Not just watery eyes, but a tearstained face. The story of these men, what they go through, and the genuineness of character rips into our hearts cuts to the core. We never will fully recover from the wound which is inflicted from watching this movie. It leaves a scar on the soul which serves as a reminder of things past and things present.  We remember the horrors of war.  We remember these men and the millions which died protecting those they cared about. We remember each one of those white crosses represents a man and the sacrifice he gave.

“It is well war is so terrible- otherwise we should grow found of it.”
~Robert E. Lee~

3 thoughts on “Movie Review: Saving Private Ryan

  1. AS much as we dislike gore, as much as we want to get away from the horror of life. This is real life stuff… only it can be worse than in the movies, it is a hard thing to watch. But the accuracy of it, showing the dead, has a purpose, so that we relize what our parents, and grandparents went through for our freedom. It also shows us what sin has truly done to this world.

  2. This is my all-time favorite film – I’ve never seen another one that struck me the same way this one did. Powerful, powerful stuff. Glad you enjoyed – no, appreciated it, too.

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