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Saving Private Ryan - Dvd [1998] - 2.98

Since its release in 1998, Steven Spielberg's D-Day drama Saving Private Ryan has become hugely influential: everything, from the opening sequence of Gladiator ("Saving Marcus Aurelius") to the marvellous 10-hour TV series Band of Brothers, has been made in its shadow. There have been many previous attempts to recreate the D-Day landings on screen (notably, the epic The Longest Day), but thanks to Spielberg's freewheeling hand-held camerawork, Ryan was the first time an audience really felt like they were there, storming up Omaha Beach in the face of withering enemy fire.

After the indelible opening sequence, however, the film is not without problems. The story, though based on an American Civil War incident, feels like it was concocted simply to fuel Spielberg's sentimental streak. In standard Hollywood fashion the Germans remain a faceless foe (with the exception of one charmless character who turns out to be both a coward and a turncoat); and the Tom Hanks-led platoon consists of far too many stereotypes: the doughty Sergeant; the thick-necked Private; the Southern man religious sniper; the cowardly Corporal. Matt Damon seems improbably clean-cut as the titular Private in need of rescue (though that may well be the point); and why do they all run straight up that hill towards an enemy machine gun post anyway? Some non-US critics have complained that Ryan portrays only the American D-Day experience, but it is an American film made and financed by Americans after all. Accepting both its relatively narrow remit and its lachrymose inclinations, Saving Private Ryan deserves its place in the pantheon of great war pictures.

On the DVD: Saving Private Ryan on disc comes in a good-quality anamorphic 1.85:1 transfer with a suitably dynamic Dolby Digital 5.1 sound mix in which bullets fly all around your living room. Extra features are pretty minimal, with a standard 30-minute "making of" piece called "Into the Breach" and two trailers. There are text notes on the cast and crew as well as the production, and a brief message from Mr Spielberg himself about why he decided to make the movie. --Mark Walker

Customer reviews (av rating: 4.5):

Rating: 4:
A masterpiece spoiled : This film has the most gut-wrenching and terrifying opening sequences of all time. In fact, the rest of it isn't that good, but watch the first twenty minutes at least once in your life.

This was billed as one of the great anti-war movies. However, it failed for me on one simple count. Ryan survived. What better way of displaying an anti-war message than for Ryan to die, and having all four brothers die in combat? Ryan's salvation, at a stroke, turns the film into a yee-haa feel-good war film, which borders at times on typical cheesy American sentimentality.

Three stars would be harsh, because the film-making is outstanding. Four is however, flattering for me - call me uncharitable, but Ryan's survival ruined the message totally. Film a different ending, Mr Spielberg, then you have the masterpiece!

4 stars is a bit flattering but 3 is harsh...

Rating: 4:
speilberg at his near best : this film is one of the few films that force a tear out of me, in particular, giovanni ribisi scene, Adam Goldberg scene eg. breathtaking war scenes, great turns from a magnificent tom hanks and matt damon, not quite schindler, but one of the greatest war epics in history. bring your tissues and dont expect a fun evening.

Rating: 3:
Magnificent - but flawed : On its release no viewer had seen anything remotely like Saving Private Ryan - the scope of its breathtaking beach invasion scenes, and the appalling reality of combat, literally took one's breath away, and stood in stark contrast to the contrivances of battle scenes that had been for so long expounded by war films. However, once the initial shock has receded, there remain some gaping holes in the film's integrity; the occasional lapses into saccharine guilt on the part of some of the characters, tend to grate when squared against the general callousness of men at war, and is something that occasionally pops up in Spielberg's work, to the irritation of this reviewer. The fact that these supposedly ordinary men are propelled into an altruistic deed - finding the sole surviving son of a woman whose other sons have all been killed in action - means that the conflict is pared down to an incredibly localised footing, leaving us with the idea that the US won the war against the Germans with the reluctant but cuddly Tom Hanks in command. This is the film's major flaw; the fighting is resolved in an Alamo-type engagement with German armour which would warm the cockles of any blue-blooded American, but bears little resemblance to historical reality, which was that the Russian army took the brunt of fighting the Germans.
My opinion is that Spielberg, as a moralistic film-maker, has chosen to tell a tale of great sacrifice justifying the conflict in an attempt to stake an American claim to the shape of the postwar world, although I would not go so far as to say his message is directly interventionist. His emphasis on the individual sacrifices of US servicemen (Where are the British?)over the clash of ideologies, was a theme that was becoming increasingly pertinent in the 1990s as the US saw its interests threatened by ideologies unleashed by the end of the Cold War. As we all now know, America's self-belief and military competency does not always result in a righteous denouement. And now, ten years down the line, there remains a slight sickly taste at the back of my throat, and a lingering sense of discomfort at the sight of so many stone crosses.

Rating: 2:
D-Day Dross : This is a film by Spielberg, so, as in most of his productions, the Jewish element is stressed, something hard to do in a film about the Normandy Landings of 1944. In the initial scene set decades later in a war cemetery, the grave headstoned by a Star of David is the one seen first, before the rows of crosses (the same thing happens at the end of the film). Likewise, the Jewish American soldier insults captured German soldiers by showing his dog tags and shouting at each one "Juden, Juden!". Having said that, the film does not shrink from showing things which happened at the time, such as German soldiers shot in the back while fleeing (not against the Geneva Convention), as well as surrendered German soldiers shot by Americans in cold blood; also, looting by the Americans (who did a lot more of it in 1944-1945 than either the Germans or --even-- the Red Army). Positive points? The costume and vehicle details seem accurate: the defenders inland from the beaches being Waffen SS soldiers in possession of things like the NSU Kettenkrad (a kind of small and tracked 2-person vehicle). And the combat scenes seem ferociously realistic. The horrors of close combat are not glossed over. Anything else? Hm...the story is apparently loosely true: a search for the fourth son of an American lady whose other sons have all just been killed. Overall, though, I found this film slight, despite the realism, fine photography and so on. I shall not be watching it a second time.

Rating: 5:
If i watch a film in the cinema then buy it on DVD,it must be good : This movie, without a doubt, caught me off guard the first time I saw it. The opening sequences are frighteningly realistic and so are the portrayals. For anyone who doesn't like this movie, I don't hold it against you but when you say that there is no plot line and it is unrealistic, What are you talking about. This movie is loosely based on a true story about a guy who lost 2 brothers in combat but only found out that one of them died. He was then sent back home. Does that differ much from the movie? I don't think so. I think Spielberg also wanted to get across the people the brutality that is war. A good movie to watch if you are interested in history or warfare. It was way better than Pearl Harbor and a good way to introduce Band of Brothers.
If i watch a film in the cinema then buy it on DVD,it must be good.

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