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Final Critque

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Final Film Critique

Saving Private Ryan

Sumer Gebo

December 20, 2015

ENG 225 Introduction To Film

Instructor David Preizler

Going through and reading the requirements for this assignment and trying to decide which movie from the AFI’s top 10 list to do my final critique on I finally settled on the World War II epic Saving Private Ryan this movie has an A list cast of actors and director. This movie is one that will pull at your heart strings and make you wonder was this how life really was during this time and was this what was happening in the European theater at the time of the war. Trying to decide which theory to use while critiquing this movie the easiest one for me to chose was the genre theory not because it was the easiest one in the list but because I am the spouse of a combat veteran who has gone through many of the same things that the cast had to endure when they were filming this movie in a generalized sense.

Saving Private Ryan begins with the storming of the beach at Normandy in June of 1944 with Tom Hanks and Tom Sizemore and their soldiers trying to destroy a German pill box or fortified machine gun emplacement. Once they have successfully cleared the beach and they move in land and finally have a chance to rest and re-equip all of their men and get food, they are given a mission, to locate and retrieve on Pvt James Francis Ryan who was played in this film by Matt Damon. During their time searching for Pvt Ryan they have to overcome many obstacles and fight skirmishes throughout the Germany and French countryside. Now this movie would be considered part of the epic film genre even though it is based on semi actual events during wartime.

Even though this movie is purely fictional it is loosely based on actual events. During that time period everyone in the country was willing to sign up and fight for the freedom that was being trampled on in Europe and they didn’t want it to spread to our beloved country. Unlike what is going in this country now days everyone is afraid to join the military and serve their country to protect the freedoms that brave men and women have been fighting for, for over 250 years. This story is an epic tale of perseverance and bravery in the face of mortal danger; this is how we expect our service members to be no matter what.

The one question that remains is that is this a true story or is it just a fictional tale that is accompanied by the actual events of that great war. Somewhat depending on how you look at it. During that time there was what was known as the Sole Survivors Act that was put into effect to protect the sole surviving members of a family from military service if a sibling or parent had been killed in combat. This came to the forefront of everyone’s mind in the early days of the war when the five Sullivan brothers were killed in action during the battle of Guadalcanal in 1942 when their ship was sunk by a Japanese torpedo. So to say that help with the filming of this epic movie is an understatement.

This movie was loosely based on the story of the Niland Brothers during WWII, because in all actuality Private Ryan never actually existed but his story however, was based on an event that happened to one of the members of Easy Company from the 506th regiment of the 101st Airborne. For those that enjoy war movies or even mini series about war and books about war would recognize that company from the show Band of Brothers as well as the book of the same name from the Author Stephen Ambrose. “It began a few weeks after D-Day, when Easy Company went into defensive positions south of the French city of Carentan. One day, one of the company's members, a man named Fritz Niland, came down the line to say goodbye to his buddies because he was flying home. The story he related to his friends was tragic. Niland had had a brother named Bob in the 82nd Airborne, a division that also parachuted into Normandy with the 101st. Upon arrival at the 82nd, Niland learned that Bob had been killed on D-Day while manning a machine gun. So Fritz Niland went to the 4th Infantry Division to see his other brother and tell him of Bob's death. Upon arrival there, he discovered that that brother too had been killed on D-Day after landing on Utah Beach. By the time he got back to Easy Company, a priest was looking for him to tell him that his third brother, a pilot in the Chinese-Burma-India theatre, had been shot down in that same week.” http://www.sproe.com/n/fritz-niland.html

The biggest discrepancy in this movie is them stating that Pvt Ryan’s mother received the death letters or telegrams on the same day which was completely inaccurate. No for this movie to sit on the list of epic movies in the top 10 they had to use this in order to make it seem that it was truly a main priority to retrieve Private Ryan at all costs. This sets the table for a truly epic adventure for Tom Hanks and the eight men from his company that are searching for him. Along the way people are killed all in the name of Pvt James F. Ryan and there is tension in the ranks because they don’t feel that this one man is worth them risking their lives for. All in all it is truly an epic tale of perseverance and determination to accomplish a mission that is pretty much destined to fail right from the beginning. The biggest thing is the opening scene of the movie they are showing scenes from a French cemetery dedicated to those who gave their life in order to liberate the country and the final scene they take you back to the cemetery and at first you are expecting to see the gravestone of one Pvt James Francis Ryan when in fact it is the grave stone of Capt Miller who was played by Tom Hanks and the old man is actually James Ryan along side his children and grandchildren paying their respects to a man who they never met but saved the life of their father.

In summary this movie when you look at the list of all the movies on the top 10 when it comes to epic movies this one should be close to the top because it was truly a master piece in its own right and could be considered one of the greatest movies of the 1990’s. I truly believe that this movie would not have been the same if it were set in some other time and place or even with different actors in place. Even if they were to try and remake this movie like they have done with so many other good movies I really don’t think that it would have the same acceptance or reaction as it did.

Reference:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0120815/plotsummary?ref_=tt_ql_6

http://www.afi.com/10top10/moviedetail.aspx?id=24&thumb=1

Goodykoontz, B., & Jacobs, C. P. (2014). Film: From watching to seeing (2nd ed.) [Electronic version]. Retrieved from https://content.ashford.edu/

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