Short of Epic

Saving Private Ryan (1998) by Steven Spielberg
Other films by Steven Spielberg: E.T: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982), Schindler's List (1993), Minority Report (2002)


Directing: Spielberg tries to take a hold of your soul from the very beginning matching the character’s sentiments with a very relevant score. His parallelism and artistic creativity showed from the early funeral and ocean scene. The first battle scene was convincing and could be a personal classic of his from the very start: the emotion and fear from the soldiers and how fragile their lives were in such setting. The camera placements refrained from the realistic battle scene movements done by most films but maintained a great montage of battle events which were frightening and real. I’m just not sure if the volume of the commands during it were convincing and loud enough to be realistic.

Showing the point of view of Cpl Upham as an observer was unique and interesting. T-5 Medic Wade’s death scene was suspenseful and spectacularly shot.

Overall, I think Spielberg impressed me once again with this film, especially on the level of cinematography concerning a war film. He is really versatile and very talented in directing.

Plot: I’m not so sure with the plot. I’m not that quite convinced on the decision of risking the lives of 8 men just to comfort an aging mother who lost her other children, especially on how the film did not allow the audience to empathize with the mother. Who knows maybe she didn’t even have a good relationship with her kids and would forget all about it in a few weeks? Also, if the intention was far deeper than the obvious rationality of such decision, then it didn’t really succeed in making itself transparent. To “read between the lines” and agree that there’s more to it than “that” would actually be forced.

Anyway, I really did enjoy the little scenes inside the whole plot. It’s the means that count in this film and not the end.

Characters/Acting: The acting from the start shows a simple yet convincing emotion. But some of them in the first battle scene weren’t that realistic and consistent.

People who impressed: Barry Pepper, Giovanni Ribisi, Matt Damon, and Jeremy Davies. Tom Hanks and the others did exceptionally well too. I should probably give Hanks more credit but I guess I’m biased on his character because it limited the strength and attachment of his role and it wasn’t convincing enough for me.

Score: The parts of the score were a bit overdone. There were parts where it could be far better if it were just quiet so you can focus more on the subjective emotion of the subject in the scene, instead of being dictated by the score on what to feel.

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