Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Saving Private Ryan (1998)


Director: Steven Spielberg
Writer:    Robert Rodat
Cast:       Tom Hanks, Tom Sizemore, Matt Damon


Following the Normandy landings, a group of U.S. soldiers go behind enemy lines to retrieve a paratrooper whose brothers have been killed in action.

I had seen the beginning of this film some years back. The headache inducing portrayal of Normandy landings in it is known for its realism and was shot with a budget of $12 million. Problem with the film is that after those initial 27 minutes, it just peters out. With Spielberg at helm, you expect only a feel good story despite it being set in a terrible situation. He did the same with Schindler's List but it being based on a true story kind of bails him out. 'Shaving Ryan's Privates' is a rather fictional story  inspired by a situation in WW2 where a family's eight siblings died in the war. 

I didn't expect to like this film since am not a fan of Spielberg and his shitty manipulative films which are high on production value but low on subtlety. After the half an hour bloodbath at the beginning of the film, Tom Hanks playing Tom Hanks gets orders to rescue Mr. Ryan because of the situation of his brothers being already dead. With some men under him they go to find Ryan based on hunches with some in the group questioning the logic behind the whole exercise. Along the way you get manipulative situations for the director to exhibit his 'Skills' involving a soldier who wants to rescue a child, another one who is protecting a POW, a sort of mutiny etc, all of which you have to watch cringing the whole way through only to finally find Ryan (Matt Damon) who doesn't want to go home before completing his mission of destroying a strategically located bridge. Bingo, we got a final set-piece of lengthy action sequence to give us some symmetry to the whole thing. 

Terence Malick's 'The Thin Red Line' also came out in 1998 and is the exact opposite of Saving Private Ryan. The latter dumbed down version of a war film was the box office hit predictably with the former standing the test of time. Nowadays most people recognize that Saving Private Ryan hoodwinked people into believing that it was good film based on the 'Call of Duty' opening. Still many people go on about how 'Shakespeare In Love' won the Best Picture Oscar over Saving Private Ryan but they should be complaining that Malick's effort didn't win. It is like people complaining about Forrest Gump winning over Shawshank Redemption when in reality Pulp Fiction was the best of the nominated lot.

Rating: 2.5/5