Saving Private Ryan

From Academic Kids

Template:Infobox Movie

Saving Private Ryan is a 1998 film directed by Steven Spielberg dealing with the World War II Battle of Normandy.

The film is particularly notable for the intensity of the scenes in its first twenty minutes or so, which depict the Omaha beachhead assault of June 6, 1944. Thereafter it takes a very heavily fictionalised route built around the search for a particular member of the United States 101st Airborne Division. The beachhead assault and the other battles shown in the movie have inspired many PC and video games, such as Unreal Tournament (1999), Return to Castle Wolfenstein, Medal of Honor: Allied Assault and Frontline, and Call of Duty, all of which have tried to re-create the famous D-day landing.

Spielberg later pursued his interest in the Normandy campaign with the television mini-series Band of Brothers which he co-produced with Tom Hanks.



The film was nominated for 11 Academy Awards, and won five: for Best Director, Best Film Editing (Michael Kahn), Best Cinematography, Best Sound, and Best Sound Effects Editing.


The general plot of the film, as the title suggests, is a humanitarian rescue mission led by John Miller, an army captain, played by Tom Hanks to return the last surviving Ryan brother from the Normandy front line to his mother. Many critics commented that the film seemed marred somewhat by Spielberg's propensity for sentimentalism.

Miller, as played by Hanks, conceals his erstwhile profession of schoolteacher and his background from the troops under his command; the uncovering of Miller's background becomes a sub-plot of the film in as much as the men have a pool on his origins, which he steadfastly refuses to reveal. Under intensely difficult circumstances, Miller displays a decisive and courageous manner to his soldiers - his suppressed nervousness is communicated only by his unsteady hands.

The bond between Miller and his men is forged in the beachhead assault on a German bunker, where his decisive action saved the day.

As the position consolidates, Miller is given his new assigment, to find Private Ryan, who had been parachuted in as a member of the 101st Airborne, which, as the film historically correctly asserts, was scattered widely across Normandy. Ryan is the sole surviving member of four brothers, the other three having been killed in action. The American command takes the decision to bring him back for his mother's sake.

Eventually, at the expense of two members of their unit, Miller and his men catch up with Ryan. They break the news of his brothers' deaths to him and tell him that he is going home. Ryan is reluctant in the decision but decides not to desert his strategically important post. Miller and his men protect him, and all but two members of the unit are killed in a ferocious German tank assault on the bridge over the Merderet River in the (fictional) village of Ramelle, which they are defending. Ryan survives, but Miller is killed in the assault.

Historical background

The real "Ryan" was Sgt. Frederick (Fritz) Niland who, with some other members of the 101st, was inadvertently dropped too far inland. They eventually made their own way back to their unit at Carentan, where the Chaplain, Lt. Col. Father Francis Sampson, told Niland about the death of his three brothers, two at Normandy and one in the Far East. Under the US War Department's Sole Survivor Policy, brought about following the death of five Sullivan brothers serving on the same ship, Fr. Sampson arranged passage back to Britain and thereafter to his parents, Augusta and Michael Niland, in Tonawanda. There was no behind-the-lines Ranger rescue mission, Niland was not a simple private, his mother was not a widow, nor is she believed to have received all three telegrams together. Additionally, the brother believed killed in the Far East turned out to have been captured and later returned home. Fr. Francis Sampson wrote about Niland and the story of the 101st, in his 1958 book, Look Out Below! (ISBN 1877702005).

Main cast

  • Tom Hanks - Captain John Miller, a former schoolteacher
  • Edward Burns - Private Richard Reiben, from Brooklyn.
  • Tom Sizemore - Sgt. Michael Horvath
  • Matt Damon - Private James Ryan
  • Jeremy Davies - Corporal Timothy E. Upham, added to Millers's team as an interpreter, speaking French and German. He is presented as somewhat nave and cowardly
  • Adam Goldberg - Private Stanley Mellish

See the page at the Internet Movie Database ( for a more comprehensive cast list.

Filming locations

Locations for the film include:

2004 broadcast controversy

The film was the focus of some controversy leading up to a Veterans Day 2004 broadcast of the film by ABC. A significant number of ABC affiliates decided to preempt the network's broadcast due to concerns of repercussions from the FCC due to the film's depiction of violence and profanity. Although the film had been broadcast by all ABC affiliates in two prior years, the Super Bowl XXXVIII halftime show controversy and the subsequent FCC response led at least 66 stations to choose not to broadcast it, including:

The affiliates which chose not to broadcast the film represented over a third of the network's potential viewing audience; besides Sinclair, some ABC stations owned by Cox Television, Belo, Hearst-Argyle, McGraw-Hill, and EW Scripps all chose to preempt the film. In its stead, affilates showed alternative films, such as Hoosiers, Far & Away, and Return to Mayberry. Other stations showed infomercials, while other affiliates showed their own tributes to Veterans Day.

Months later, the FCC released a statement that stated the affiliates would not have been banned if they presented the film.


This is one of three Tom Hanks movies, (along with Forrest Gump and Apollo 13) where socks play a role in the plot. The G.I.s use socks for the shells of their sticky bombs.

See also

External links and references

Template:Steven Spielberg's films

de:Der Soldat James Ryan es:Salvar al soldado Ryan fr:Il faut sauver le soldat Ryan it:Salvate il soldato Ryan no:Redd menig Ryan ja:プライベート・ライアン sl:Reševanje_vojaka_Ryana sv:Rdda menige Ryan


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