The first half-hour of ‘Saving Private Ryan’ is a massive attack of colours sound and horrifyingly realistic pictures. The first thing you see as the camera zooms into the old James Ryan’s eye after the war, at the memorial graveyard in France, is a dulled shaky image of a boat sailing the English channel. There is a storm rocking the boat wildly side to side containing a group of scared young men, vomiting, praying, and shivering with fear.
This is so unlike other Hollywood films straight from the beginning, the colours are dulled very much like the style English dramas have adopted over the years, and won numerous awards for.
It is filmed in a ‘documentary style’; it is a though the camera has gone out into the real world and brought back these shockingly realistic pictures that will horrify the mothers, wives and families of all those fighting the war at the time. The sound is shockingly realistic, as the bullets ping around on the speakers you realise the confusion the men on the beaches must have gone though on that day.
The first half-hour makes you realise soldiers are not machines they are human beings with emotions such as fear and most definitely pain. Pain is projected to us in many ways in ‘Saving Private Ryan’ – The image of the young boy who must not have been over 20 with his guts pouring out on the beach, screaming for his mother, while men raced past him for cover.
The man who’s arm gets blown of by a German mortar and then picks it back up as though he does it every day, the shock must have played with his senses so he could not tell he was in an extreme amount of pain.
The camera angles are also very realistic it is like the film crews were actually fighting on that day, the camera moves for cover and when the camera moves the picture is jerky and not smooth, the quality is gritty and grainy not like modern films. Also when a person gets shot or blown into pieces in front of the camera some blood splats on it, it is as though you are the camera and you have just been covered in blood and human remains. The director, Stephen Spielberg, adds many dramatic features to the film.
The main one in the first half-hour, is the close up on Tom Hank’s character (Captain Miller). When Captain Miller has just had a shock, e. g. where the shell land a few feet from him and knocks him to the ground. The sound is muffled the picture is slow, as are his reactions, he slowly remembers what he has been taught which is to keep his helmet on at all times. He picks up the helmet and places it on his head by this time so much blood had mixed with the seawater it had turned red. As he puts the helmet on the red water runs down his head.
Then a solider shouts to him it took him about 30 seconds to understand what he was saying but when he did he was acting with efficiency and skill as he had been trained. It was as though that 30 seconds had been removed from his life with no after effects. The overall picture of war that Stephen Spielberg portrays in ‘Saving Private Ryan’ is that war is not nice. People don’t get killed honourably for their country, with bravery and courage; they are thrown into war, most of the soldier’s die from a single bullet without even fighting back.
This is very different from Hollywood films for example where a person gets shot, yet still chases the shooter, in ‘Saving Private Ryan’ if you get shot you are dead or dying, crying for your mother with your last breath of air. The entire film is so realistic all the way through and to make his point, Spielberg kills Captain Miller. In a Hollywood film Captain Miller would have gone home to his wife pruned the rose bushes with her and lived happily ever after.
Because Spielberg wants ‘Saving Private Ryan’ to seem ultra realistic he kills the main character of the film. This is a huge shock for the people watching the film, in any normal Hollywood Blockbuster the main character would live to fight another day and maybe appear in a sequel to the original, ‘Saving Private Ryan’ will never have a sequel. “In my opinion no war film could ever match the quality, acting and camera work shown in ‘Saving Private Ryan’. “