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Saving Private Ryan is what I consider to be my favourite film of all time. Whilst not as highly regarded as films such as Shawshank Redemption or The Godfather it can be argued that it contains qualities that surpass these two greats of cinema. Whilst all these films encompass great storylines, even greater dialogue and some of the best actors of the generation, for me Saving Private Ryan goes that little bit further.
Let me explain this more, Shawshank Redemption tells the story of Andy Dufresne and his time in prison after being falsely imprisoned for the murder of his wife. The Godfather at a basic level revolves around the troubles associated with being a part of the mob. These two stories are realistic to an extent yet revolve around an entirely ficticious story, based more on the time period than real events. This is where Saving Private Ryan excels for me.
Saving Private Ryan follows Captain Miller (Tom Hanks) as he battles with his soldiers through the D-day landings and then on through France to save the life of Private Ryan for his mother’s sake as his three brothers have all been killed during the war (based on the true story of Fredic Niland). The film is set during WWII and portrays the struggle of the soldiers who fought for both the allies and the axis. This realism is what sets this film apart from other greats, when one of the soldiers dies you feel it, you imagine the pain of thousands of people, you empathise with Ryan’s mother, the pain is real. It drags the viewer on a journey whether they like it or not. It would be impossible for a person to watch this film and not feel it pulling on your heart strings.
The main scene that epitomises this sense of loss is the ‘Dog Tag’ scene. Aptly named as Captain Miller and his men search through the dogtags of fallen soldiers, laughing and joking whilst their surviving brothers in arms walk past solemn faced. The juxtaposition of the laughter next to the tragic loss gives the viewer a true sense of the emotions felt during the war, the solace found in little things such as a moment of laughter. It is moments like this that are often found during this film and is what sets it apart from the other greats.
The acting is sheer brilliance, again bringing the tragedy of death to the forefront of the viewers mind as they grieve with the brothers in arms. Such a range of emotions are portrayed so eloquently by the actors, the death of Wade (Giovanni Ribisi) really hits the viewer hard, Wade cries that he wants to go home and for his “mumma”. It sends a message to the audience that war is futile, it is fought by boys and men who want nothing more than to go home to their families. It is this underlying message that adds an extra layer to Saving Private Ryan.
Obviously this blog is a place for my own thoughts what i present to you is my honest opinion on a film that deserves more than a rating of 8.5 on IMDB and more than being 37th ranked on IMDB’s top 250 films. I believe that this film is truly a masterpiece that will stand the test of time.