A 1998 war film
A 1998 war film, “Saving Private Ryan”, which is directed by Steven Spielberg, has a background of World War II. It represents the actual risk of war during World War II, which is one of the most massive global wars in history. This film is not just about the cruelty of the war, but it also exhibits the realism of war. The plot of the film goes on Captain Miller, who is the leader of the unit, ordered to return one soldier (James Ryan) home because of the death in battlefield of three brothers of Ryan family. “Saving Private Ryan” tries to give a message on not only just the danger of the war, but also a minimum humanity of the people in a realistic perspective.
Usually, many movies hide from many features of the wartime terror because of its complicated nature. However “Saving Private Ryan” shows honest and realistic display of what it is like fighting inside the war. There are many shots that try to show the reality. Starting from the shot of the Omaha Beach scene (0:04:47), the camera starts to shake, which I think it tries to have a point of view shot and make the scene seem like it was filmed in the wartime. Also, there is medium shot (0:06:33) of a blood directly splashed to the camera that enhances a realistic mood. There is a water shot (0:06:57-0:07:32) that indicates an animated effect of soldiers that are striving to get out of waters. To me, I think Spielberg seeks to display the true view of the battle and the war giving huge impact to the viewer. Especially, the moving shot (0:09:19-0:10:26) captures in slow motion and emphasizes the real aspects of what the current status is on that situation. Before, it was in a chaotic mood, but the shot sound below was low and it gave more attention to what the situation is entirely. It is filmed with color saturation reduced and only focus on Captain Miller, so that it gave me a thought that the situation is unbelievable for him and the desire to escape from these circumstances is like a dream. There are a variety of sounds of environments, guns, and explosions that aids in increasing anxiety and giving a realistic view. Therefore, it seems to me as though Spielberg is trying to show the really atrocious acts and misery of the war through this film.
There are things that symbolize to express the mood and theme of the film. The zoom shot (0:04:58) is showing the shivering hand of Captain Miller, which I think symbolizes the humanity of the soldiers. This hand tremor is shown several times in the following shots (0:26:57, 1:22:47) and I think it symbolizes fear of the continuous wars. However, there is also an unexpected appearance of a different mood and atmosphere in the film. In the shot (0:42:01), soldiers come across greener pastures and flock of sheep. To me, I think it tries to show peace during the war that there is not just a battle during the war. Additionally, the brightness becomes a most important factor to express the mood that the battles are occurred in dark and cloudy atmosphere when bright and clean mood shows in rest and winning period. In the shot (0:46:15), the battle begins with the rain that increases a sense of immersion while at the end, the shot (1:00:17) turns out to a bright and quiet mood. Therefore, by showing peaceful and shining atmosphere, the scene of the terrible war appears to be dramatic.
Finally, and most importantly, love for mankind and humanity is well shown in this film. There is a character called “Upham”, who has had no experience on the battle. He only had the skill and ability of translation and language, but he was put into the battlefield. However, in the shot 1:28:01, Upham seems like he is very stuffy but it gave me a thought that Upham looks the same as normal people, but also shows humane qualities in the war. In the long shot (1:37:55), Upham relaxed and saw a German prisoner off while nobody else cares about it. I thought that this shot shows at least a humanity which appears in the war. Upham faced the death by confronting the enemy but the enemy was kept alive. For me I could not understood, however, the long shot of German and Upham faced again in the middle of the battle that Upham kept them alive and let them leave. To me, it gave me a thought of that it shows a preciousness of lives that both could be saved even though they are enemies against each other. Also, in the end, Captain Miller has a dying comment and says, “Earn this” to Ryan in the close-up shot (2:36:38). This meant the work of Captain Miller is done and his life is lost due to him and ordered Ryan to live as far and good as he can because Ryan earned his life. For me, I think it also expresses the preciousness of lives through the death of Captain Miler and consistent living of Ryan until old age.
In conclusion, Spielberg tried to deliver a message of not only a brutal aspect of the war, but also its realistic view of the complete opposite such as calm and bright with the love for the humanity inside. War is very complex, and Spielberg shows two sides of it very well in “Saving Private Ryan”.