Guns, Guts, and Glory
Wow! I have heard the hype about Saving Private Ryan for many years but I never took the time to sit down and watch it. This week I was more than impressed. The plot, award-winning actors, and overall quality of the movie blew me away. Captain Miller led the 2nd Ranger Battalion ashore in a D-Day invasion. He and a few of his men are ordered to venture deep into France to save and return home Private Ryan after his three brother are all killed in action. The mission brings controversy to Captain Miller’s crew but they eventually learn the importance of friendship and fidelity. Saving Private Ryan utilizes top-notch special effects to emphasize the perils of battle to civilian viewers and appeal to the emotions and credibility of the film.
The two featured battle scenes, one at Normandy and the other the defense of Ramelle, each lasted over 25 minutes in length (IMDB, Trivia). Combined, these two scenes make up a good majority of the movie. It is imperative that if the special effects give credibility to the film, they must be as realistic as possible. The sounds of gunshots and explosions were actually recorded using WWII weapons (IMDB, Trivia). In addition to the sounds, the visual effects intensified the credibility of the movie. The point of view for every camera angle not only highlighted what the soldiers were doing but also included visuals of explosions and fires from the fight. Even though Saving Private Ryan seems to have been a high budget, high tech movie many aspects were improvised. In “Understanding Movies” it notes, “It’s what they do with the technology artistically that counts, not the technology per se.” (Giannetti, 35) To enhance the reality of being on the battlefield, cameras were mounted with drills to oscillate during explosions to replicate ground movement (IMDB). There are camera lenses that can duplicate this effect but the director went with what he had. The sounds and visual special effects appealed to me, a civilian, as a credible reputation of what happens in war.
In addition to the special effects being credible, they also relayed emotions felt during war. Particularly, the make up from the bloodied soldiers showed the gruesome side of battle. While some might say the movie was too gory, I think it showed a realistic side of WWII. By doing so, we felt for those men who suffered and died for us. We could see why they were in pain and could feel their pain. The special effects make up added a perspective of what soldiers see. In turn it made the viewers understand why soldiers hold such a tight bond to their fellow combatants when they return, dead or alive.
Inclusion of fighting scenes is a crucial aspect of any war movie. It is important to capture these scenes with war-like special affects for it to logically be a war movie. If the war scenes were absent from the film, Saving Private Ryan would just be any other hike across Europe. Instead the intense gunshots, grenades, and mines create the war-like scenes gives Saving Private Ryan the logic of being a war movie. While this logical argument for the addition of special affects in a war movie is not very elaborate, it is absolutely necessary.
Saving Private Ryan earns notoriety because of the deep emotions of brotherhood created in the plot. Importantly, the plot is aided strongly by the special effects. Without the special effects in the film, the movie loses a ton of credibility and emotions and would not be able to have such an impact on a primarily civilian audience. Alongside the star-studded casting, I believe the special effects makes this film so highly regarded. I give Saving Private Ryan five out of five pickles.