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Saving Private Ryan

05 Jan 2017Film Essays

This was a remarkable film, depicting one of the landmark fights between the allied forces and the Germans, during the world war II. One of the most remarkable aspect of this film is that it is film based on human grounds, though it is set in one of the bloodiest clashes, during the world war II. Not one or two, but eight brothers of the same family had died during the American civil war, and this inspired the writer of a plot, which is set in the world war II. The American army chief notices that one mother has already lost her three sons in the war and the fourth one is on duty in France. He orders one of his commanders, assisted by 8 soldiers, to locate him and return to his mother. The plot itself, makes the film very remarkable.

This film is not a mere documentation of an event that took place during the war, but is based on humanitarian thoughts. If a mother has already lost three sons, the fourth one must not be lost under any circumstances, seems to be the guiding spirit of the film. Using a devastating entity like a war as a setting, the film tries to preach goodness and humanity. Perhaps, in the entire history of cinema, there is no match parallel to this film, in context of its main theme and its settings. Two completely contrasting elements, humanity and war are treated in a splendid manner, in this film. The narratives style of the film is also very captivating. The highlight of this narration is the use of flashback technique, in telling the entire story.

The film opens with an elderly person near a grave, and flashes back to the D-day scene, June 6 1944, when the allied troops had planned to take over the Omaha beach, on the French border adjoining the English channel. Starting from this point events unfold themselves, one by one, to tell the entire story. Once the D-day sequence is over, the audience is taken back to America, where the army chief realizes that a mother has lost her three sons in this war, and the fourth is engaged as a paratrooper in France. He orders location and return of the fourth son. The audience is then taken back to France, where the war is still going on. Once located, the son, refuses to leave just like that, without accomplishing the task he was assigned to.

The film ends with the camera again on the grave yard, from where it had begun. This aged man, is the fourth son, around whom the entire film has been rotating. The production values, are not only convincing, but superb, to say the least. Especially the way in which the D-day sequence of Omaha beach is filmed. Almost every frame is bullets raining. The sequence begins with the allied troops arriving at the beach, on their respective boats. As the gates of the boat open, they are faced with rain of bullets, fired from the German troops who have already positioned themselves, at the top of a castle, which overlooks the entire beach. From such a disadvantageous position, the allied troops slowly gain the grounds, and, manage to defeat the German troops.

This sequence reveals in-depth research into the event also. The location of the German back up troops on the top of a small hill, with the help of a reflecting surface, by the allied forces, was perhaps the turning point of this battle. The audience is also reminded of the means adopted by the soldiers in the wake of war fatigue. One soldier is shown collecting the sand of the beach, and putting it in a box labeled as “ France”. His bag, shows another box labeled as “Africa”. Even on the war filed, maybe soldiers entertain their minds with such hobbies!! This sequence ends with a shot showing the beach full of dead bodies, and sea water, with a tint of red in it, splashing these bodies. The dismay, and horror of war is communicated by just one shot, in a very silent mode.

It’s a masterpiece of effective communication through powerful visualization. One more highlight of the film is the attention paid by its makers, to add a touch of reality to the film. It is said that forty barrels of fake blood was used to bring the effect of blood in the sea water. When the German vehicles of that era were difficult to procure in working conditions, Soviet tanks, in working conditions were made up to look like the German tanks of those days, and used in the film. Both, the director and the cinematographer, did not want that this film be presented as a Technicolor extravaganza, but a subdued, low tech news reel footage of 1940s. so, the cinematographer scrapped the lens coating of his camera, which helped in achieving the desired result.

Moreover, the negative was put through ‘ bleach-bye pass’, which extracted more color. Against the usual shutters of 180 degrees, 90 degrees or even 45 degree shutters were used to get the crispness in the explosions. ( portraying history) Conclusively this essay, it can be said that this film excels in all departments of film making, both abstract elements like the plot and tangible elements like the camera and its accessories. The result is a very unique film, made at the turn of the twentieth century but which appears to have been made in the mid twentieth century. Achieving such backward integration, is a great ask indeed.

References :

Portraying history, saving private Ryan, wikipedia the free encyclopedia, Retrieved on 23 December 2008 from : < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saving_Private_Ryan >

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