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Tour De Force
Feb 09, 2001 12:46 AM 2369 Views





On a battlefield there are no killers only soldiers. They stand up for their country and achieve victory by vanquishing the faceless enemies that threaten the integrity of the values they live upon. The only value I see in War is violence and destruction. I guess filmmaker Steven Spielberg sees more than that.

In his reality-based tour de force “Saving Private Ryan” he recreates a chapter out of the World War II legacy namely the invasion of Normandy in a 20-minute battle sequence. Not only does he aptly recreate the bloodshed and destruction he also captures emotions that have never been shown before in other war epics made over the years. After the invasion sequence the actual story begins. A special 8-man force headed by Captain John Miller (Tom Hanks) set out into a volatile battle zone to search for Private James Ryan (Matt Damon). Now the film dips full fledged into the conventional Americanism that Spielberg’s film often delve into. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with it. But it definitely is not something to rave about.

The search forms the main fabric of the film. And finally you have the test of your courage situation that determines what a man is truly made of. We’ve seen it before in movies like ‘ Apocalypse Now’, ‘Platoon’, ‘Hamburger Hill’ and another recent counterpart of ‘Saving….’ ‘ The Thin Red Line’. Technically the movie is one to be reckoned with. Especially Janusz Kaminsky’s photography. In the first battle sequence the color image is hue darker than the usual image. The film stock is slightly on the grainy side giving it the live action footage effect. In sharp contrast to the dismal atmosphere during the ambush itself the colors of flames licking their way up to the hazy, smoky sky are bright amber. Though there is a slight change in the film stock in the ensuing scene when Mrs.Ryan gets the three telegrams informing her of her sons being killed in battle to a smoother grain. The motion of the camera throughout the film is a little shaky thus making you the viewer feel like you are in the thick of things. There is no particular background score, thank goodness, so the somber effect of the film stays intact. As for the cast, its quite a cocktail of seasoned actors like Hanks, Damon, Tom Sizemore, newcomers like Edward Burns (“Brothers McMullen”), Barry Pepper, Giovanni Ribisi( “Boiler Room”, “The Other Sister”) and Jeremy Davies (“Million Dollar Hotel”, “The Locusts”) and a few cameo appearances by Harve Presnell and Dennis Farina. Hanks is quite the usual as the experienced, war worn Captain given the fate of eight men in his hands. Matt Damon makes a good effort as the lucky one of the four Ryan brothers to get home alive. As for the other actors Spielberg has definitely extracted their best performances.

There are even a few dialogues that stay in your mind like “ Quite a view….” Uttered by Tom Sizemore’s character after the enemies surrender in the end of the invasion scene. Then there is ‘Now we have to surrender our socks’, a small attempt at wartime humor. The final scene in the movie is very reminiscent of the one in 1994’s “Schindler’s List”. It shows Private James Ryan an old man facing the grave of Captain John Miller in a bid to thank him for saving his life.

The movie does indulge in getting into the nitty gritty aspects of war. But the story is nothing extraordinary. The script has its own pace. There are moments here and there. So it’s not a movie you can write off completely. Give it one chance at the most.

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