The art of cinema is like that of no other. It is the only form of art that contains both visual and audial elements, and the topic of the film can be about anything. A very common type of movie is historical based, which is a story that takes place at a very important moment in history. Some cinematic examples of this include some of the greatest movies of all time, like Schindler’s List, Braveheart, and Lawrence of Arabia. Another great movie of this genre is Saving Private Ryan. Released in 1998, the movie takes place in France during World War II in the events following D-Day.
A small band of soldiers are given one mission: find Private James Francis Ryan and bring him home safely. Along the way, the soldiers face many hardships, including losing many of their men. This movie has brought up many great discussions, including Director Steven Spielberg’s true theme of the movie, the quality of the actors, the fantastic sound editing, and the movie’s failure to win the Academy Award for Best Picture. Steven Spielberg is arguably the greatest director of all time.
Many of his other popular movies include E. T. The Extra-Terrestrial, Jaws, Schindler’s List, Jurassic Park, and the Indiana Jones movies. He won the Academy Award for Best Director twice, along with earning many other awards and honors. Even though Spielberg’s talent is very well known, his theme for Saving Private Ryan is not as well known. The biggest debate of the theme is whether it is a pro-war or anti-war movie. In my opinion, it is neither. The movie is obviously not pro-war due to the many deaths and the attitudes of the soldiers. The soldiers are constantly complaining about the mission and the war in general.
However, I would not say it is anti-war either. Even though many of the soldiers complain, they understand that what they are doing is their duty. In my opinion, the theme is something completely different. I believe that the true theme is brotherhood. This band of brothers stays together in the most difficult of times. The brotherhood was tested on multiple occasions, but no matter what they stayed together. They risked their lives for one another and other brothers they had never even met. In my opinion, the brotherhood of the US Army is Spielberg’s true theme of Saving Private Ryan.
Saving Private Ryan truly has an all star cast. The main actor in the movie is arguably the greatest actor of all time, Tom Hanks (Forrest Gump, Captain Phillips, Apollo 13). He has also won two Academy Awards for Best Actor. In the movie, Hanks plays Captain Miller, the leader of the group searching for Ryan. This performance is exactly what one would expect from Tom Hanks. It was absolutely fantastic. If I did not know that was Tom Hanks, I honestly would have thought I was looking at an English teacher turned Army captain. No amount of praise will ever give Tom Hanks what he deserves.
Another great actor in this movie is Matt Damon (Good Will Hunting, The Martian, Jason Borne movies). Damon has won an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay along with a Golden Globe for Best Actor. On this screen, Damon played none other than Private James Francis Ryan himself. I thought Damon did a great job. He showed the emotions of losing his brothers and being in a battle very well. However, I do not feel that the role did Damon justice. Matt Damon is one of the best actors of his generation, and even though the movie is named after his character, Private Ryan is not a major character.
At least when he needed to be rescued in Interstellar and The Martian we saw him throughout the entire movie. Overall, though, Damon had a great performance. The final actor I will discuss is none other than Vin Diesel (The Fast and the Furious, 2 Fast 2 Furious, The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, Fast and Furious, Fast 5, Fast and Furious 6, Furious 7, Guardians of the Galaxy). He is the winner of the MTV Movie Award for On Screen Duo and Online Film Critics Society Award for Best Ensemble Cast Performance. Diesel played the part of Private Caparzo. Vin Diesel gave a solid Vin Diesel-esque performance.
I am just upset that it was Caparzo who had to die first. I would have loved to see Diesel survive the entire movie, or at least long enough to meet one of the men with Private Ryan. This man, in my opinion, should have been played by the late and great Paul Walker. Overall, I feel like Saving Private Ryan had a tremendous cast who all gave outstanding performances. One thing I want to quickly touch up on is the audio in the movie. The music for the movie was amazing, as one would expect with music written by the great cinematic composer John Williams (Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Harry Potter, Jurassic Park, Jaws).
This man has won five Academy Awards, three Emmy Awards, four Golden Globes, and twenty two Grammy Awards. Williams’ music should never be underestimated. Next, I want to look at the sound itself. In 1999, Saving Private Ryan won the Academy Awards for both Best Sound and Best Sound Editing. After listening to that movie, I can understand why. Every little sound it heard in great detail. Whether it is the pouring rain, whizzing bullets, soldiers diving underwater, tanks from far off, men marching in the mud, or a loud explosion, Gary Rydstorm did everything with the sound perfectly.
Finally, I want to discuss the Academy Awards in regards to Saving Private Ryan. It won five awards at the 71st Academy Awards, including Steven Spielberg winning Best Director, Janusz Kaminski winning Best Cinematography, Gary Rydstrom, Gary Summers, Andy Nelson, and Ron Judkins winning Best Sound, Michael Kahn winning Best Film Editing, and Gary Rystrom and Richard Hymns winning Best Effects, Sound Effects Editing. These five awards were out of ten nominations. Saving Private Ryan basically came in “second place” to Shakespeare in Love, which won seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture.
Another notable loss is Tom Hanks loosing Best Actor to Roberto Benigni for his role in Life is Beautiful. I have not seen Life is Beautiful, so I cannot complain there, but I have seen parts of Shakespeare in Love, and I believe Saving Private Ryan was robbed of an Oscar it very well deserved. It did not have any negatives, except it might have had to much action for the Academy’s taste. Saving Private Ryan was much more liked by the general American population, earning first place in box office domestic gross in 1998 compared to Shakespeare in Love’s eighteenth place.
That is nearly $116 million more! As good as Shakespeare in Love may have been, Saving Private Ryan was by far better. Overall, Saving Private Ryan was a very well written, filmed, directed, acted, edited, and produced movie. I would easily give it five out of five stars and recommend it to anyone looking for a good movie to watch. The Spielberg-Hanks combo is one of the greatest of all time, and they both definitely deserve all the respect they have received for their amazing work.