Saving Private Ryan

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Saving Private Ryan
Saving Private Ryan poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Steven Spielberg
Written by Robert Rodat
Produced by
Starring
Cinematography Janusz Kamiński
Edited by Michael Kahn
Music by John Williams
Production
companies
Distributed by
  • DreamWorks Pictures (U.S. and Canada)
  • Paramount Pictures (International)
Release date
  • July 24, 1998 (1998-07-24)
Running time
169 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$70 million [1]
Box office$482.3 million [1]

Saving Private Ryan is a 1998 American epic war film directed by Steven Spielberg and written by Robert Rodat. Set during the Invasion of Normandy in World War II, the film is known for its graphic portrayal of war, especially its depiction of the Omaha Beach assault during the Normandy landings. The film follows United States Army Rangers Captain John H. Miller (Tom Hanks) and his squad (Tom Sizemore, Edward Burns, Barry Pepper, Giovanni Ribisi, Vin Diesel, Adam Goldberg, and Jeremy Davies) as they search for a paratrooper, Private first class James Francis Ryan (Matt Damon), the last surviving brother of four, the three other brothers having been killed in action. The film was a co-production between DreamWorks Pictures, Paramount Pictures, Amblin Entertainment, and Mutual Film Company. DreamWorks distributed the film in North America while Paramount released the film internationally.

Contents

In 1996, producer Mark Gordon pitched Rodat's idea, which was inspired by the Niland brothers, to Paramount, which eventually began development on the project. [2] Spielberg, who at the time was forming DreamWorks, came on board to direct the project, and Hanks joined the cast. After the cast went through training supervised by Marine veteran Dale Dye, the film's principal photography started in June 1997 and lasted two months. The film's D-Day scenes were shot in Ballinesker Beach, Curracloe Strand, Ballinesker, just east of Curracloe, County Wexford, Ireland, and used members of the Irish Army reserve as infantry for the D-Day landing.

Released on July 24, 1998, Saving Private Ryan received acclaim from critics and audiences for its performances (particularly from Hanks), realism, Janusz Kaminski's cinematography, score, screenplay, and Spielberg's direction, and was placed on many film critics' 1998 top ten lists. It was also a box office success, becoming the highest-grossing film of 1998 in the United States with $216.8 million domestically and the second-highest-grossing film of 1998 worldwide with $481.8 million worldwide. [3] Additionally, it grossed $44 million from its release on home video in May 1999. The film won several accolades, including Best Picture and Director at the Golden Globes, Producers Guild of America, Directors Guild of America, and Critics' Choice Awards. The film was nominated for eleven Academy Awards at the 71st Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Actor (Hanks), and Best Original Screenplay, and won five: Best Director (Spielberg's second), Best Film Editing, Best Cinematography, Best Sound, and Best Sound Effects Editing, though it lost the Best Picture award to Shakespeare in Love in a controversial Oscars upset.

Since its release, Saving Private Ryan has been considered one of the greatest and most influential films of the 1990s, and also one of the greatest war films of all time. It has been frequently cited as influential in the war and action film genres, primarily due to its use of desaturated colors, hand-held cameras, and tight angles. [4] [5] [6] It has been credited for renewing interest in World War II media, particularly World War II-themed first-person shooter games that became popular in the 2000s. In 2007, the American Film Institute ranked Saving Private Ryan as the 71st-greatest American movie in AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies (10th Anniversary Edition) and in 2014, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant". [7]

Plot

An elderly veteran walks through a cemetery, accompanied by his family. Coming to a specific grave, he is overcome with emotion and begins recalling his time as a soldier. On the morning of June 6, 1944, the U.S. Army lands at Omaha Beach as part of the Normandy invasion. Captain John H. Miller leads his command, Company C, 2nd Ranger Battalion in a breakout from the beach. The staff at the United States Department of War in Washington, D.C. learns that James Francis Ryan of the 101st Airborne Division is missing and presumed to be the last survivor of four brothers who are all in the military. General George C. Marshall orders Ryan to be found and sent home so that his family will not lose all its sons.

Miller is ordered to lead a detachment in finding Ryan. Arriving in the contested town of Neuville between German defenders and the 101st Airborne, Miller learns that Ryan is defending a key bridge in the town of Ramelle. While assisting the 101st in Neuville, one of Miller's men is shot and killed by a German sniper. En route to Ramelle, Miller decides against the judgment of his soldiers to neutralize a German machine gun nest, resulting in the death of their Medic. A surviving German soldier is spared by the intervention of Upham, the detachment's interpreter, who is unused to the horrors of combat. Miller blindfolds the soldier, who has been nicknamed "Steamboat Willie", and orders him to surrender to the next Allied patrol. When Reiben threatens to desert, Miller defuses the situation by calmly telling a story that reveals his civilian background as a teacher and baseball coach, which he has not previously spoken of, and which has been the subject of much speculation among his men.

Upon arriving in Ramelle, Miller's detachment makes contact with Ryan and informs him of his brothers' deaths. Though upset, Ryan refuses to abandon his post, which soon comes under siege by attacking Germans. Miller and his unit fight alongside the 101st as the German armor advantage takes a toll on the Americans. Jackson, Mellish and Horvath are killed in the fighting. In an attempt to destroy the bridge with pre-placed explosives, Miller is wounded by "Steamboat Willie." As the Germans approach the bridge, American P-51 Mustang fighter planes, Sherman tanks, and infantry overpower them and end their advance. Upham confronts Steamboat Willie, who begins to try talking Upham into letting him go; now aware of the difficult choices soldiers make during wartime, Upham shoots and kills him.

Before dying from his wounds, Miller tells Ryan to "earn this," referring to the sacrifices others have made so Ryan can experience a post-war life. Ryan is revealed to be the elderly veteran from the beginning of the film and the grave to be Miller's. Ryan expresses gratitude for the sacrifices made by Miller and his men and says he hopes he "earned it," then salutes Miller's gravestone.

Cast

Production

Development

In 1994, Robert Rodat's wife gave him the bestseller D-Day: June 6, 1944: The Climactic Battle of World War II by historian Stephen Ambrose. While reading the book during an early morning walk in a small New Hampshire village, Rodat was "struck by a monument dedicated to those who had died in various wars, particularly because of the repeated last names of brothers who were killed in action". He was inspired by an actual family in Ambrose's book named the Nilands, which had lost two sons in the war and was thought to have lost a third, whose fourth son was "snatched" out of Normandy by the War Department. [8]

Rodat proposed the pitch to producer Mark Gordon. Gordon then pitched Rodat's idea to Paramount Pictures, whose executives liked the idea and commissioned Rodat to write the script. [9] [8] Carin Sage at Creative Artists Agency read Rodat's script and made Steven Spielberg, who was one of the agency's clients, aware of it. At the same time, Spielberg, who was at the time establishing DreamWorks Pictures, picked up the script and became interested in the film. [10]

Spielberg had already demonstrated his interest in World War II themes with the films 1941 , Empire of the Sun , Schindler's List , and the Indiana Jones series. Spielberg later co-produced the World War II themed television miniseries Band of Brothers and its counterpart The Pacific with Tom Hanks. When asked about this by American Cinematographer, Spielberg said, "I think that World War II is the most significant event of the last 100 years; the fate of the Baby Boomers and even Generation X was linked to the outcome. Beyond that, I've just always been interested in World War II. My earliest films, which I made when I was about 14 years old, were combat pictures that were set both on the ground and in the air. For years now, I've been looking for the right World War II story to shoot, and when Robert Rodat wrote Saving Private Ryan, I found it." [11]

After Spielberg signed on to direct the film, Paramount and DreamWorks, who agreed to finance and produce the film together with Amblin Entertainment and Mutual Film Company, made a distribution deal whereby DreamWorks would handle the film's domestic distribution, while Paramount would release the film internationally. In exchange for distribution rights for Saving Private Ryan, Paramount would retain domestic distribution rights to Deep Impact, while DreamWorks would acquire international distribution. [9]

Pre-production

In casting the film Spielberg sought to create a cast that "looked" the part, stating in an interview, "You know, the people in World War II actually looked different than people look today," adding to this end that he cast partly based on wanting the cast "to match the faces I saw on the newsreels." [12]

Gordon and co-producer Gary Levinsohn were interested in having Tom Hanks appear in the film as Captain Miller. Gordon recounted, "Tom was enormously excited about it and said, 'Steven and I have always wanted to work together." [13] Pete Postlethwaite, [14] Harrison Ford and Mel Gibson were initially considered for the role of Miller. [15]

Edward Norton turned down the role of Private Ryan to do the film American History X . [16] Noah Wyle also passed on the role of Private Ryan, due to not being able to get out of his contract for ER .

Lisa Sanderson alleged in a 2013 lawsuit that Garth Brooks was offered a role in the movie but turned it down as he did not want to be outshone by superstars like Tom Hanks and Matt Damon. [17]

Before filming began, several of the film's stars, including Edward Burns, Tom Sizemore, Barry Pepper, Vin Diesel, Adam Goldberg, Giovanni Ribisi, and Tom Hanks, endured ten days of "boot camp" training led by Marine veteran Dale Dye and Warriors, Inc., a California company that specializes in training actors for realistic military portrayals. [18] Matt Damon was trained separately, so the rest of the group, whose characters are supposed to feel resentment towards Damon's character, would not bond with him. [19] Spielberg had stated that his main intention in forcing the actors to go through the boot camp was not to learn the proper techniques but rather "because I wanted them to respect what it was like to be a soldier." [12] During filming, Sizemore was battling drug addiction and Spielberg required him to be drug tested every day. If he failed a test, he would be dismissed and all of his scenes would be reshot with a different actor. [20]

The film's second scene is a sequence over 20 minutes long recounting the landing on the beaches of Normandy on D-Day. Spielberg chose to include this particularly violent sequence in order "to bring the audience onto the stage with me," specifically noting that he did not want the "audience to be spectators," but rather he wanted to "demand them to be participants with those kids who had never seen combat before in real life, and get to the top of Omaha Beach together." [12]

Filming

The opening and closing scenes of the film are set in the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial. American military cemetery 2003.JPG
The opening and closing scenes of the film are set in the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial.

Filming began June 27, 1997, and lasted for two months. [21] [22] [23] Spielberg wanted an almost exact replica of the Omaha Beach landscape for the movie, including sand and a bluff similar to the one where German forces were stationed and a near match was found in Ballinesker Beach, Curracloe Strand, Ballinesker, just east of Curracloe, County Wexford, Ireland. [24] [25] [26] Production of the sequence depicting the Omaha Beach landings cost US$12 million and involved up to 1,500 extras, some of whom were members of the Irish Reserve Defence Forces. Members of local reenactment groups such as the Second Battle Group were cast as extras to play German soldiers. [27] In addition, twenty to thirty actual amputees were used to portray American soldiers maimed during the landing. [28] Spielberg did not storyboard the sequence, as he wanted spontaneous reactions and for "the action to inspire me as to where to put the camera." [29] Hanks recalled to Roger Ebert that although he realized it was a movie, the experience still hit him hard, stating, "The first day of shooting the D-Day sequences, I was in the back of the landing craft, and that ramp went down and I saw the first 1-2-3-4 rows of guys just getting blown to bits. In my head, of course, I knew it was special effects, but I still wasn't prepared for how tactile it was." [30]

Some shooting was done in Normandy, for the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial in Colleville-sur-Mer and Calvados. Other scenes were filmed in England, such as a former British Aerospace factory in Hatfield, Hertfordshire, Thame Park, Oxfordshire and Wiltshire. Production was due to also take place in Seaham, County Durham, but government restrictions disallowed this. [31] According to both Gordon and Levinsohn, the producers were hardly involved in the production as Spielberg was entrusted with full creative control of the film. Both producers were only involved in raising foreign financing and handling international distribution. Gordon, however, said that Spielberg was "inclusive and gracious and enormously solicitous in terms of the development of the screenplay". [32]

Portrayal of history

Saving Private Ryan is noted for its recreation of the Omaha Beach landings. Into the Jaws of Death 23-0455M edit.jpg
Saving Private Ryan is noted for its recreation of the Omaha Beach landings.

The historical representation of Charlie Company's actions, led by its commander, Captain Ralph E. Goranson, is considered to be well-maintained in the opening sequence. The sequence and details of the events are very close to the historical record, including the sea sickness experienced by many of the soldiers as the landing craft moved toward the shoreline, the significant casualties among the men as they disembarked from the boats, and their difficulty linking up with adjacent units on the shore.

The distinctive "ping" of the US soldiers' M1 Garand rifles ejecting their ammunition clips is heard throughout the battle sequence. Many details of the company's actions were depicted accurately; for instance, the correct code names for the sector Charlie Company assaulted, and adjacent sectors, were used. Included in the cinematic depiction of the landing was a follow-on mission of clearing a bunker and trench system at the top of the cliffs which was not part of the original mission objectives for Charlie Company, but which was undertaken after the assault on the beach. [33]

The landing craft used included twelve actual World War II examples, 10 LCVPs and 2 LCMs, standing in for the British LCAs that the Ranger Companies rode in to the beach during Operation Overlord. [33] [34] The filmmakers used underwater cameras to better depict soldiers being hit by bullets in the water. Forty barrels of fake blood were used to simulate the effect of blood in the seawater. [28] This degree of realism was more difficult to achieve when depicting World War II German armored vehicles, as few examples survive in operating condition. The Tiger I tanks in the film were copies built on the chassis of old, but functional, Soviet T-34 tanks. [35] The two vehicles described in the film as Panzers were meant to portray Marder III tank destroyers. One was created for the film using the chassis of a Czech-built Panzer 38(t) tank [36] similar to the construction of the original Marder III; the other was a cosmetically modified Swedish SAV m/43 assault gun, which also used the 38(t) chassis. [37]

There are some historical inaccuracies in the film's depiction of the Normandy campaign. At the time of the mission, US forces from the two American beach areas, Utah and Omaha, had not yet linked up. [38] In reality, a Ranger team operating out of the Omaha Beach area would have had to move through the German-occupied city of Carentan, or swim or boat across the estuary linking Carentan to the English Channel, or transfer by boat to the Utah landing area. On the other hand, US forces moving out of Utah Beach would have had direct and much shorter routes, relatively unencumbered by enemy positions, and were already in contact with some teams from both US airborne divisions landed in the area. [39]

In contrast, the Utah Beach landings were relatively uncontested, with assault units landing on largely unoccupied beaches and experiencing far less action than the landings at Omaha. [40] The filmmakers chose to begin the narrative with a depiction of the more dramatic story of Omaha, despite the historical inaccuracies it would create. In addition, the film depicts the 2nd SS Panzer Division Das Reich as the adversary during the fictional Battle of Ramelle; in fact, there is no town called Ramelle and the 2nd SS was not engaged in Normandy until July, and then at Caen against the British and Canadians, 100 miles to the east (160 km). [41] Furthermore, the Merderet River bridges were not an objective of the 101st Airborne Division but of the 82nd Airborne Division, part of Mission Boston. [42]

Much has also been said about various "tactical errors" made by both the German and American forces in the film's climactic battle. Spielberg responded by saying that in many scenes he opted to replace sound military tactics and strict historical accuracy for dramatic effect. [43] Some other technical errors were also made, such as the reversed orientation of the beach barriers and the tripod obstructions with a mine at the apex.

In the ruined village of Ramelle, a spelling mistake in French can be observed on a mural advertisement, as the word estomac is erroneously spelled as estomach. [44]

Cinematography

To achieve a tone and quality that were true to the story as well as reflected the period in which it is set, Spielberg once again collaborated with cinematographer Janusz Kamiński, saying, "Early on, we both knew that we did not want this to look like a Technicolor extravaganza about World War II, but more like color newsreel footage from the 1940s, which is very desaturated and low-tech."

Kamiński had the protective coating stripped from the camera lenses, making them closer to those used in the 1940s. He explains that "without the protective coating, the light goes in and starts bouncing around, which makes it slightly more diffused and a bit softer without being out of focus." The cinematographer completed the overall effect by putting the negative through bleach bypass, a process that reduces brightness and color saturation. The shutter timing was set to 90 or 45 degrees for many of the battle sequences, as opposed to the standard of 180-degree timing. Kamiński clarifies, "In this way, we attained a certain staccato in the actors' movements and a certain crispness in the explosions, which makes them slightly more realistic." [45]

Reception

Box office

Saving Private Ryan was released in 2,463 theaters on July 24, 1998, and grossed $30.5 million on its opening weekend, opening to number one and remained at the top for four weeks until Blade topped the film in its fifth week of release. [46] The film grossed $216.5 million in the US and Canada and $265.3 million in other territories, bringing its worldwide total to $481.8 million. It was the highest-grossing US film of 1998, and was the second-highest-grossing film of 1998 worldwide, finishing behind Armageddon . [1] Box Office Mojo estimates that the film sold over 45.74 million tickets in the United States and Canada. [47]

Critical response

Steven Spielberg earned critical acclaim for his directing on the film and would later win his second Academy Award for Best Director. Steven Spielberg by Gage Skidmore.jpg
Steven Spielberg earned critical acclaim for his directing on the film and would later win his second Academy Award for Best Director.

Saving Private Ryan received acclaim from critics and audiences; much of the praise went to Spielberg's directing, the realistic battle scenes, [48] the actors' performances, [49] John Williams's score, the cinematography, editing, and screenplay. On Rotten Tomatoes the film holds an approval rating of 93% based on 143 reviews, with an average rating of 8.60/10. The website's critics consensus reads: "Anchored by another winning performance from Tom Hanks, Steven Spielberg's unflinchingly realistic war film virtually redefines the genre." [50] Metacritic assigned the film a weighted average score of 91 out of 100, based on 35 critics, indicating "universal acclaim". [51] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A" on an A+ to F scale. [52]

Many critics associations, such as New York Film Critics Circle and Los Angeles Film Critics Association, chose Saving Private Ryan as Film of the Year. [53] Roger Ebert gave it four stars out of four and called it "a powerful experience". [49] Janet Maslin of The New York Times called it "the finest war movie of our time". [4] Gene Siskel, Ebert's co-host and critic of Chicago Tribune , said that the film "accomplishes something I had been taught was most difficult—making an action-filled anti-war film or, at least, one that doesn't in some way glorify or lie about combat". [54] On their program At the Movies, Siskel and Ebert each named the film as the fourth- and third-best film of 1998, respectively. [55] [56] Writing for TIME , Richard Schickel said that was "a war film that, entirely aware of its genre's conventions, transcends them as it transcends the simplistic moralities that inform its predecessors, to take the high, morally haunting ground". [57] Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly praised the film, saying that "Spielberg has captured the hair-trigger instability of modern combat." [58] Kenneth Turan of Los Angeles Times praised the film as well, calling it "a powerful and impressive milestone in the realistic depiction of combat, Saving Private Ryan is as much an experience we live through as a film we watch on screen." [59]

The film's opening sequence of the Omaha Assault was universally acclaimed by critics and audiences for its realistic depiction. Omaha beach.jpg.webp
The film's opening sequence of the Omaha Assault was universally acclaimed by critics and audiences for its realistic depiction.

The film earned some negative reviews from critics. Writing for Chicago Reader , Jonathan Rosenbaum gave the film two stars and felt that "it has a few pretty good action moments, a lot of spilled guts, a few moments of drama that don't seem phony or hollow, some fairly strained period ambience, and a bit of sentimental morphing that reminds me of Forrest Gump ." [60] Andrew Sarris of Observer wrote that the film was "tediously manipulative despite its Herculean energy". [61] The film also earned some criticism for ignoring the contributions of several other countries to the D-Day landings in general and at Omaha Beach specifically. [62] The most direct example of the latter is that during the actual landing, the 2nd Rangers disembarked from British ships and were taken to Omaha Beach by Royal Navy landing craft (LCAs). The film depicts them as being United States Coast Guard-crewed craft (LCVPs and LCMs) from an American ship, the USS Thomas Jefferson (APA-30). [33] [63] [64] This criticism was far from universal with other critics recognizing the director's intent to make an "American" film. [65] The film was not released in Malaysia after Spielberg refused to cut the violent scenes; [66] however, the film was finally released there on DVD with an 18SG certificate in 2005.

Many World War II veterans stated that the film was the most realistic depiction of combat they had ever seen. [67] The film was so realistic that some combat veterans of D-Day and Vietnam left theaters rather than finish watching the opening scene depicting the Normandy invasion. Their visits to posttraumatic stress disorder counselors rose in number after the film's release, and many counselors advised "'more psychologically vulnerable'" veterans to avoid watching it. [68] The Department of Veterans Affairs set up a nationwide hotline for veterans who were affected by the film, and less than two weeks after the film was released it had already received over 170 calls. [69]

The film has gained criticism from some war veterans. Film director and military veteran Oliver Stone has accused the film of promoting "the worship of World War II as the good war," and has placed it alongside films such as Gladiator and Black Hawk Down that he believes were well-made, but may have inadvertently contributed to Americans' readiness for the 2003 invasion of Iraq. [70] In defense of the film's portrait of warfare, Brian De Palma commented, "The level of violence in something like Saving Private Ryan makes sense because Spielberg is trying to show something about the brutality of what happened." [71] Actor Richard Todd, who performed in The Longest Day and was among the first Allied soldiers to land in Normandy (Operation Tonga), said the film was "Rubbish. Overdone." [72] American academic Paul Fussell, who saw combat in France during World War II, objected to what he described as, "the way Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan, after an honest, harrowing, 15-minute opening visualizing details of the unbearable bloody mess at Omaha Beach, degenerated into a harmless, uncritical patriotic performance apparently designed to thrill 12-year-old boys during the summer bad-film season. Its genre was pure cowboys and Indians, with the virtuous cowboys of course victorious." [73] Historian Jim DiEugenio took note that the film was actually "90 percent fiction" and that Tom Hanks knew this, with his goal being to "commemorate World War II as the Good War and to depict the American role in it as crucial". [74] [75]

Awards

The film was nominated for eleven Academy Awards at the 71st annual ceremony, including Best Picture, Best Actor for Tom Hanks, and Best Original Screenplay. The film won five of these, including Best Cinematography, Best Sound, Best Sound Effects Editing, Best Film Editing, and Best Director for Spielberg, his second win in that category.

After the film lost the Best Picture award to Shakespeare in Love , many film pundits criticized the Academy's decision not to award the film with the Best Picture Oscar and has continued to be considered as one of the biggest snubs in the ceremony's history. [76] [77] In a poll in 2015, Academy members indicated that, given a second chance, they would award the Oscar for Best Picture to Saving Private Ryan. [78] As of 2021, it is one of only three films to ever win the PGA, DGA, Golden Globe, and Best Director Oscar while not winning Best Picture at the Academy Awards, the others being Brokeback Mountain and La La Land .

The film also won the Golden Globes for Best Motion Picture – Drama and Director, the BAFTA Award for Special Effects and Sound, the Directors Guild of America Award, a Grammy Award for Best Film Soundtrack, the Producers Guild of America Golden Laurel Award, and the Saturn Award for Best Action, Adventure, or Thriller Film. [53]

List of awards and nominations received by Saving Private Ryan
AwardCategoryNomineeResult
Academy Awards Best Picture Steven Spielberg, Ian Bryce,
Mark Gordon and Gary Levinsohn
Nominated
Best Director Steven Spielberg Won
Best Actor in a Leading Role Tom Hanks Nominated
Best Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen Robert Rodat Nominated
Best Art Direction Thomas E. Sanders and Lisa Dean Nominated
Best Cinematography Janusz Kamiński Won
Best Film Editing Michael Kahn Won
Best Makeup Lois Burwell, Conor O'Sullivan
and Daniel C. Striepeke
Nominated
Best Original Dramatic Score John Williams Nominated
Best Sound Gary Rydstrom, Gary Summers,
Andy Nelson and Ron Judkins
Won
Best Sound Effects Editing Gary Rydstrom and Richard Hymns Won
Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films Best Thriller FilmWon
Best Special EffectsNominated
Amanda Awards Best Foreign FilmSteven SpielbergNominated
American Cinema Editors Best Edited Feature FilmMichael KahnWon
American Society of Cinematographers Outstanding Achievement in
Cinematography in Theatrical Releases
Janusz KamińskiNominated
Art Directors Guild Feature FilmNominated
Awards of the Japanese Academy Best Foreign FilmNominated
BAFTA Awards Best Film Nominated
Best Direction Steven SpielbergNominated
Best Actor Tom HanksNominated
Best Cinematography Janusz KamińskiNominated
Best Production Design Nominated
Best Editing Michael Kahn Nominated
Best Sound Won
Best Music John Williams Nominated
Best Makeup & Hair Nominated
Best Special Visual Effects Won
BMI Film Music Award BMI Film Music AwardJohn WilliamsWon
Blockbuster Entertainment Award Favorite ActorTom HanksWon
Favorite Supporting ActorJeremy DaviesNominated
Boston Society of Film Critics Awards Best CinematographyWon
British Society of Cinematographers Best CinematographyNominated
Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards Best DirectorSteven SpielbergWon
Best PictureWon
Best ScoreJohn WilliamsWon
Camerimage Best CinematographyNominated
Casting Society of America Best CastingWon
Chicago Film Critics Association Awards Best PictureWon
Best ActorTom HanksNominated
Best CinematographyNominated
Best DirectorSteven SpielbergNominated
Cinema Audio Society Best SoundWon
Czech Lions Best Foreign FilmSteven SpielbergWon
César Awards Best Foreign FilmSteven SpielbergNominated
Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association Awards Best PictureWon
Best ActorTom HanksNominated
Directors Guild of America Outstanding Directorial AchievementSteven SpielbergWon
Empire Awards Best Actor Tom HanksWon
Best Director Steven SpielbergWon
Best Film Nominated
European Film Award Screen International AwardSteven SpielbergNominated
Film Critics Circle of Australia Awards Best Foreign FilmNominated
Florida Film Critics Circle Awards Best CinematographyWon
Golden Globes Best Motion Picture – DramaWon
Best DirectorSteven SpielbergWon
Best ScreenplayRobert RodatNominated
Best ActorTom HanksNominated
Best Original ScoreJohn WilliamsNominated
Grammy Awards Best Instrumental Composition Written
for a Motion Picture or for Television
John WilliamsWon
Huabiao Film Awards Best Foreign FilmWon
Humanitas Prize Feature Film CategoryNominated
Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists Best Foreign DirectorSteven SpielbergWon
Kansas City Film Critics Circle AwardsBest FilmWon
Best DirectorSteven SpielbergWon
Best Supporting ActorJeremy DaviesWon
Key Art Awards Best of Show – AudiovisualWon
Las Vegas Film Critics Society AwardsBest CinematographyWon
Best DirectorSteven SpielbergWon
Best PictureWon
London Critics Circle Film Awards Film of the YearWon
Actor of the Year Matt Damon Nominated
Actor of the YearTom HanksNominated
Director of the YearSteven SpielbergNominated
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards Best CinematographyWon
Best DirectorSteven SpielbergWon
Best PictureWon
MTV Movie Awards Best Action SequenceTom HanksNominated
Best Male PerformanceTom HanksNominated
Best MovieNominated
Motion Picture Sound Editors Best Sound Editing – DialogueWon
Best Sound Editing – Sound EffectsWon
Best Sound Editing – MusicNominated
National Board of Review Top Ten FilmsWon
National Society of Film Critics Awards Best FilmNominated
New York Film Critics Circle Awards Best FilmWon
Online Film Critics Society Awards Best FilmWon
Best DirectorSteven SpielbergWon
Best CinematographyWon
Best EnsembleWon
Best ActorTom HanksNominated
Best Film EditingMichael KahnWon
Best MusicJohn WilliamsNominated
PGA Awards Motion Picture Producer of the Year AwardWon
Russian Guild of Film Critics Best Foreign FilmSteven SpielbergNominated
Satellite Awards Best Film Nominated
Best Director Steven SpielbergNominated
Best Original Screenplay Robert RodatNominated
Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture Tom Sizemore Nominated
Best Editing Michael KahnWon
Best Cinematography Nominated
Best Original Score John WilliamsNominated
Best Visual Effects Nominated
Saturn Awards Best Action or Adventure Film Won
Best Special Effects Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Awards Best EnsembleNominated
Best ActorTom HanksNominated
Southeastern Film Critics Association AwardsBest DirectorSteven SpielbergWon
Best PictureWon
Toronto Film Critics Association Awards Best DirectorSteven SpielbergWon
Best PictureWon
Best Male PerformanceTom HanksNominated
Writers Guild of America Best Original ScreenplayRobert RodatNominated

Legacy

Today, Saving Private Ryan is widely considered to be one of the greatest films ever made. [4] [5] [6] The film has been frequently lauded as an influential work in the war film genre and is credited with contributing to a resurgence in America's interest in World War II. Old and new films, video games, and novels about the war enjoyed renewed popularity after its release. [79] The film's use of desaturated colors, hand-held cameras, and tight angles has profoundly influenced subsequent films and video games. [80] [81]

The American Film Institute has included Saving Private Ryan in many of its lists, ranking it as the 71st-greatest American movie in AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies (10th Anniversary Edition), [82] as well as the 45th-most thrilling film in AFI's 100 Years...100 Thrills, [83] the 10th-most inspiring in AFI's 100 Years...100 Cheers, [84] and the eighth-best epic film in "AFI's 10 Top 10". [85] In 2014, the film was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress, being deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant". [7] Saving Private Ryan was voted as the greatest war film in a 2008 Channel 4 poll of the 100 greatest war films. In a readers’ poll for Rolling Stone , it was voted as the 18th-best film of the 1990s. [86] Empire named the film as the 39th-greatest film of all time. [87]

Saving Private Ryan has also received critical acclaim for its realistic portrayal of World War II combat. In particular, the sequence depicting the Omaha Beach landings was named the "best battle scene of all time" by Empire magazine and was ranked number one on TV Guide's list of the "50 Greatest Movie Moments". [88] Filmmaker Robert Altman wrote a letter to Spielberg stating, "Private Ryan was awesome – best I've seen." [89] Filmmaker Quentin Tarantino has expressed admiration for the film and has cited it as an influence on his 2009 film, Inglourious Basterds . [90] Prior to making Dunkirk , filmmaker Christopher Nolan consulted with Spielberg on how to portray the war scenes. [91]

Television broadcasts

On Veterans Day in 2001, 2002 and 2004, ABC aired the film uncut and with limited commercial interruption. The network airings were given a TV-MA rating, as the violent battle scenes and the profanity were left intact. The 2004 airing was marred by pre-emptions in many markets because of the language, in the backlash of Super Bowl XXXVIII's halftime show controversy. [92] However, critics and veterans' groups such as the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars assailed those stations and their owners, including Sinclair Broadcast Group (which owned fourteen ABC affiliates at the time), Hearst-Argyle Television (which owned twelve); Scripps Howard Broadcasting (which owned six); Belo (which owned four); and Cox Enterprises (which owned three) for allegedly putting profits ahead of programming and honoring World War II soldiers, saying the stations made more money running their own programming instead of being paid by the network to carry the film, especially during a sweeps period.[ citation needed ]

A total of 65 ABC affiliates—28% of the network—did not clear the available timeslot for the film, even with The Walt Disney Company, ABC's parent, offering to pay all their fines for broadcasting the movie's strong language to the Federal Communications Commission. [93] In the end, however, no complaints were lodged against ABC affiliates who showed Saving Private Ryan, perhaps because even conservative watchdogs like the Parents Television Council supported the unedited rebroadcast of the film. [94] Additionally, some ABC affiliates in other markets that were near affected markets, such as Youngstown affiliate WYTV (channel 33, which is viewable in parts of the Columbus, Cleveland, and Pittsburgh markets, none of which aired the film), Gainesvile affiliate WCJB-TV (channel 20, which is viewable in parts of the Orlando and Tampa markets), and the network's affiliates in Hartford and Providence (which are viewable in parts of the Boston and Springfield markets) still aired the film and gave those nearby markets the option of viewing the film. [95] TNT and Turner Classic Movies have also broadcast the film. AMC holds broadcast rights to the film as of 2021. [96] [97]

Home video

The film was released on home video in May 1999 with a VHS release that earned over $44 million. [98] The DVD release became available in November of the same year, [99] and was one of the best-selling titles of the year, with over 1.5 million units sold. [100] The DVD was released in two separate versions: one with Dolby Digital and the other with DTS 5.1 surround sound. Besides the different 5.1 tracks, the two DVDs are identical. The film was also issued in a limited 2-disc LaserDisc in November 1999, making it one of the last feature films to be issued in this format, as LaserDiscs ceased manufacturing and distribution by year's end. [101]

In 2004, a Saving Private Ryan special-edition DVD was released to commemorate the 60th anniversary of D-Day. This two-disc edition was also included in a box set titled World War II Collection, along with two documentaries produced by Spielberg, Price For Peace (about the Pacific War) and Shooting War (about war photographers, narrated by Tom Hanks). [102] The film was released on Blu-ray Disc on April 26, 2010 in the UK and on May 4, 2010 in the US, as part of Paramount Home Video's premium Sapphire Series. [103] However, only weeks after its release, Paramount issued a recall due to audio synchronization problems. The studio issued an official statement acknowledging the problem, which they attributed to an authoring error by Technicolor that escaped the quality control process, and that they had already begun the process of replacing the defective discs. [104]

On May 8, 2018, Paramount Home Entertainment released Saving Private Ryan on Ultra HD Blu-ray to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the release of the film. [105]

See also

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Further reading