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Saving Private Ryan (SE)
DVD disk
10.08.2004 By: Indiana Sev
Saving Private Ryan (SE) order
Steven Spielberg

Tom Hanks
Matt Damon
Tom Sizemore


star Printer-Friendly version
A few days after the D-Day invasion, Captain John Miller (Hanks), along with his platoon is ordered on a special mission behind enemy lines to retrieve a private named Matt Damon-- oops, I meant James Ryan. The privateís three other brothers have been killed in combat and being the last of the family still alive, the army is sending this gang in (who have mixed feelings about the mission) to find and bring him back home. The good news is Matt Damon plays private Ryan...the better news is Ben Affleck is not in this movie...
This is easily one of the most realistic and emotionally powerful war films Iíve ever seen, and this comes from a lover of the classic battle flicks from the 30ís, 40ís and 50ís. In fact, the opening 20 minutes or so-- when the troops hit Omaha beach -- may be too graphic for some to stomach. Iíd already seen the film once before when it opened in 1998 so since I was expecting it, I wasnít as shocked as the first time, but it was still very hard to watch. The one thing that bothered me in my original viewing of the film was that at the start of the movie, at the cemetery, there is a soldier (I wonít say who) visiting a gravesite and heís brought his family along, one of which is one damn fine-looking babe in a tight purple top and pink pants. Sheís gorgeous and damn sexy and completely took my attention away from the matter at hand, which is the emotional scene that was about to take place. I just donít understand why Spielberg couldnít dress her down a bit, so she didnít stick out as much. I like hot little numbers as much as the next guy, but not in a scene like thatÖ

Anyway, thatís a small complaint in an otherwise perfect film that has brilliant performances from the obvious actors (Hanks, Sizemore and Damon) and also the ones you might have forgotten were in this platoon, namely Vin Diesel, Ed Burns, Adam Goldberg, Barry Pepper and Giovanni Ribisi, whoís been a favorite of mine since his THE WONDER YEARS days. A few cool surprises are Dennis Farina, Paul Giamatti and ex-CHEERS owner Sam Malone who all make short, but impressive, appearances as well. SAVING PRIVATE RYAN is an incredibly touching movie about sacrifice, dedication and the horrifying reality of what it can be like on the battlefield. If you havenít seen it yet, either get off your ass and rent it or join the armed forces. Either way, youíll learn a lot about what it really takes to fight for your country and be a heroÖ
An Introduction to the Film: A short, but sweet, two-minute intro by Spielberg discussing his love for war films and his obsession with pretty much everything in the 1930ís and 40ís (almost half his films are set during that time period). Some clips from his early 8mm war films are also included in this little introduction.

Looking Into the Past (4 minutes): A featurette which delves into the inspiration writer Robert Rodat had to write this film, which is the true story of the Niland family who lost three sons in WWII in the span of a week and had their fourth son pulled out from behind enemy lines to return home. Both Spielberg and Rodat also speak about the importance of authenticity and research when making a war film like this. An interesting feature which also explores wartime policies regarding siblings serving togetherÖ

Miller and his Platoon (8 minutes): Spielberg, Hanks and almost all the members of the platoon discuss their characters, Stevenís style of directing, improvisation and much more. There is stronger focus on all the different platoon members/actors in this featurette.

Boot Camp (7 minutes): As in most war films, the actors had to endure 5-6 days of boot camp to get a small inkling of what itís really like to be on virtually zero sleep, sleep in freezing temperatures, live on rations and use military artillery convincingly. A retired army captain speaks about the experience he had with the actors and the importance of showing them what the men who fought in these wars went through. The ďplatoonĒ also chimes in with their take on the camp and what it gave them as far preparing themselves for the film. Good little feature thatís certainly worth a look.

Making Saving Private Ryan (22 minutes): Everyone gets in on this one including the actors, Steven, the producer, production designer and many others. Seeing how in control and "on the ball" Steven is on set directing is always a wonder to watch and there are many instances like that on here. Youíll also learn info on things as varied as costume design, locations and Stevenís different directing style during the war sequences as opposed to all the other moments in the film. This is a great behind-the-scenes featurette that takes you into the heart of the action.

Re-creating Omaha Beach (17 minutes): A wonderful feature that puts its focus on the long opening sequence of the film when the troops arrive on the beach and proceed to enter into the hellish nightmare of war as they see their friends and fellow soldiers get mowed down by the hundreds. Everything from the weapons they used to clothing the extras (who were virtually all members of the Irish army) to the actors' experiences actually being in that situation and living it out is covered here. This is an important and necessary addition to these extras.

Music and Sound (15 minutes): Undeniably, this movie has spectacular sound and music, but hearing John Williams and co. talk about it for a quarter of an hour is a real snooze.

Parting Thoughts: Some final poignant and wise words from Mr. Spielberg and Hanks.
The DVD Clinic makes a strong suggestion to buy this one right away, even if you havenít ever seen it before. A wonderful collection of extras on this nicely packaged 60th anniversary of D-Day DVD set makes this one Spielberg war movie that you simply must own.
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