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Saving Private Ryan

This is of course a Tom Hanks film about one unit's mission to bring back Private Ryan, the last of a trio of brothers who had all been slain in battle during WWII. It is deemed that the US army owes at least this much for his family. The mission seems quite silly but the action is dead on serious. The Normandy landing is not a slow progressive climb over the beaches as most carefully edited US army footage from the past shows. Instead the minute the landing crafts come near, German mortars begin sinking ships. Machine gun bullets rip into the boats and into the men even before they land. The first step off the boat was the hardest. Germans in fortified bunkers fire at will and from secure locations.

The landing finally is a success but only because the allies had such vastly superior numbers. Tom Hanks, was in the past a school teacher but now leads the mission to find Private Ryan. Ultimately he is found but not after many harsh battles. In one scene a German sniper is captured. He denounces Hitler and is allowed to leave providing he finds the nearest Allied base and surrenders. This childish trust of course leads to death in the end. The sniper who was allowed to go free, does what he does best later on and delivers expert sniper hits on allied troops including those led by Hanks.

The film features a realism of battle that is surprising considering the silly mission the film projects as its core theme. Saving a lone soldier when all the world is scorched and on fire seems a bit silly. But the film does present the realism to the highest levels. No film has projected the realism of the Normandy landings to the degree that this film has.

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