The Brotherhood of War
Captain John H Miller (Tom Hanks) is among the thousands of men preparing to invade Normandy on D-Day, June 6th, 1944. A grim morning is in store for the sea sick men aboard the ships heading into Omaha Beach. As soon as the ramps of the boats hit the sand men were bombarded with a hell storm of bullets, artillery, and fire. Steven Spielberg used these aspects along with superb acting and top notch visual and audio effects to create the masterpiece that is Saving Private Ryan. David Ansen of Newsweek described the opening scene by saying, “This is not the triumphant version of D-Day we’re used to seeing, but an inferno of severed arms, spilling intestines, flying corpses, and blood red tides” (57). After the battle of Omaha beach, Captain Miller receives orders to head to the frontlines and find the only surviving brother of four and bring him back alive so he may carry on his family name. Miller proceeds to assemble a squad of seven men to help hunt down Private Ryan. He chooses Mike Horvarth (Tom Sizemore), Daniel Jackson (Barry Pepper), Stanley Mellish (Adam Goldberg), Richard Reiben (Edward Burns), Irwin Wade (Giovanni Ribisi), Adrian Caparzo (Vin Diesel), and Timothy Upman (Jeremy Davies) to risk their lives in a journey across the country to help save the life of a single man. These men are all very deep characters in their own ways. They each have their own opinions on the task at hand. Ryan Schickel of Time Magazine described it perfectly when he said, “Therein lies the moral Dilemma posed to Miller and his squad. They are being asked to risk their life for a young man no better than they are, no different, really” (58).
Treading along we start to see some character development in most of the men in the squad. For example, we start to see that Richard Reiben (Edward Burns) is questioning the importance of the mission. We also learn a little more about Daniel Jackson (Barry Pepper) who seems to be a god fearing pinpoint sniper. Janet Maslin of The New York Times really hit home when she said, “The soldiers talk while marching through the French countryside. On the way, they establish strong individual identities and raise the film’s underlying questions about the meaning of sacrifice” (Maslin). Spielberg really did an amazing job at giving his audience a sense of the brotherhood that these men developed during the war. In the scene where the audience finally meets Private Ryan (Matt Damon), we are reminded that these men weren’t there fighting just to live to the next day so that they could go home. Sure they wanted to go home but what they were really fighting for was their brothers in arms. They were fighting for the men that had suffered through hell alongside them. In one scene a little over half way through the movie, some of the members of the squad are joking about what Captain Miller (Hanks) must have done before the war. In this particular scene Tom Hanks shines immensely in his acting skills. Peter Travers of Rolling Stone points out that Hanks greatest scenes are attributed to some of his silent scenes such as the one described above. In which Hanks’s answer is quite emotional. There are many outstanding scenes from Saving Private Ryan that I could talk about. However, the one that sticks out the most in my mind is the scene in which we view an attack on a German outpost through the eyes of the cowardly Timothy Upham (Davies). This particular scene stands out in my mind because it really puts into perspective just how quickly some of these battles and events actually happened. When we are viewing a battle through the eyes of a fighting solider, things seem to last hours at a time. Upham gives us the chance to sit back and watch the battle unfold through a pair of binoculars. This really gives the audience a sense of franticness and shows us just how quick and deadly these skirmishes could be. The next scene that is particularly appealing to me is the opening scene at