Saving Private Ryan
“Saving Private Ryan” Analyse the methods use to make the opening battle sequence of “Saving Private Ryan” both shocking and realistic and say how effective you find it as an introduction to the film “Saving Private Ryan” is a war film directed by the well-known Jewish director Steven Spielberg and was released on September 11th 1998. It was a joint production with Paramount and DreamWorks pictures. The film won in total 5 Academy Awards (Oscars) including best director in 1999. This is most likely due to Spielberg’s many conventions used in the opening twenty-five minutes.
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Saving Private Ryan’ broke traditional conventions of the war film genre, mainly because Spielberg used a very wide range of techniques, to portray what he wanted the audience to witness. He uses de-saturated colour all the way throughout the film, which gives off a dull, and washed out impression of the film and made the red of the blood stand out against the dull background. Another technique used was in the use of a handheld camera which made it seem like you were facing all the dangers the soldiers were faced, and seeing all the horrific things they saw from their point of view.
These two techniques helped Spielberg achieve “realism at all times” . meaning that he would not hold back on any blood and gore that he wished to include in his film. One such time in the opening twenty-five minutes was during “Captain Millers confusion” where a soldier has his arm missing and in all the confusion is searching for his missing arm on the floor and when he eventually find it he just walks off as if nothing has happened.
This shows the gory side to war but at the same time the effects it had on the people involved and how confused a man must be to search on a beach for his arm when bullets are flying in from left, right and centre. In the opening scene, before we see any actors we are shown a full screen shot of the America flag accompanied by the sound of bugle playing in the background. The flag shows that the film is from the perspective of the Americans, despite them joining the war late in 1941 when the war starting in 1939.
The bugles are usually played to signify the start of a war The Audience then see a close of Private Ryan’s feet walking away from the camera as it follows him, this is to show that we as an audience are following him along his journey. We then are show the American flag again but this time it is accompanied by the French flag. These two countries were both on the same team through out the war, the Allies. This is ironic as America joined the war late on and France surrendered some time in 1940 five years before the end of the war when they were invaded by Germany.
We are then sent back in time to June 6th, 1944 on Omaha Beech in Normandy through an extreme close up of Private Ryan’s eyes. This gives the audience the impression that they are looking at things through his eyes. The first shot of the beach is a low angled shot of the Hedgehogs which were used to stop boats entering the beach, this is followed by a long shot of boats approaching the beach. We then enter the boat and are shown the hands of soldiers shaking to show that the ordeal was obviously scary.
Also close ups of soldiers faces with terrified looks on them were used this was firstly to show how they felt but at the same time it was showing the audience who the main characters are. The following scene the instant chaos on the beach. A point of view shot of German turrets is used to show what the soldiers were heading towards. The audience the sees a view of from behind the soldiers on the boat using a medium close up, this makes you feel nervous and scared for the people involved. It is at this point that the audience really interacts with the action when the doors of the boat open and all soldiers are mowed down by machine gun fire.
With the camera behind the soldiers it feels like you are being shot at and you can feel yourself dodging the bullets. The audience then sees the introduction of the handheld camera when a underwater shot is used when all soldiers jump in the sea. They see people drowning and getting shot while they are in the water and the bright red of the blood stands out in the water. We can hear water splashing when we are above water but as soon as we go under the sound is muted and bullets flying into the water is the only sound. All this makes us feel we are the camera and the camera is in fact a person.
The audience then sees chaos all around with people desperately trying to get out of the way of oncoming bullets and if that wasn’t enough bombs are dropping from above, when ever a bomb is dropped the camera shakes as if it is a person stumbling from the force. This scene gave the impression that survival was impossible. The third scene in the first twenty-five minutes focuses the audiences attention on one character, Captain Miller and his confusion. In this scene we are plunged into the horrors of D-day with him and sense the carnage that he senses.
The audience begins by seeing a close up of Captain Millers face and the sound is muted and everything is slowed down. Gradually the sound of slowed explosions is heard and is accompanied by a over the shoulder shot from Captain Millers perspective. They then see jumpy shots of Captain Miller that alternate between this and the horror around him which is show using a over the shoulder shot. The horrors include things like people getting arms blown off and getting shot from all over but the over all theme was people were so confused and didn’t know what they had got them selves into.
The scene ends by showing the audience a soldier mouthing some words then a huge explosion and sound is reinstated and the soldier speaks asking what he should do next. In the final scene which is the end battle, we are shown Captain Miller resting ,after just capturing Omaha beach, and talking to Sergeant Howard. The audience sees a long shot of the beach after the soldiers have left and the chaos that has just occurred finals comes to life. We can see dead bodies everywhere and the sea is stained with blood. Captain Millers voice is heard saying “what a view” and Sergeant Howard agrees.
The viewers then see a close up shot of Captain Millers eyes as we are sent back to a low angled shot of the beach while gentle music fades into the sound of waves which is peaceful after the chaos is over. The final shot is of a dead soldier laid down with the name “Ryan” on his back. This shot establishes the scene and links to the title and gives a plot to the film. Over all I think the opening twenty-five minutes were successful in being realistic and shocking and I think that Spielberg succeeded in putting “chaos up on the screen”. e achieved this with the use of de-saturation but mainly I think it was down to the use of the handheld camera which made the audience feel like it was in the film and secondly the use of his camera angles helped a lot in making the film seem real and made the audience feel for the people that were involved. I think the film was a good film as it is not a typical war film that only appeals to the older people it appeals to all people and effective at making the audience shocked.