Few war-epics come as spectacular and brutally realistic as Spielberg’s 1998 film, Saving Private Ryan. Following the journey of 2nd Ranger battalion, the film succeeds in portraying the psychological and physical traumas of war, with the cast starting off fresh faced and filled to the brim with patriotic enthusiasm towards the war before gradually being eroded by loss, guilt and anxiety.
The cast does such a sensitive topic justice with Tom Hanks taking the lead role of Captain Miller, alongside performances from the likes of Vin Diesel, Giovanni Ribisi and Matt Damon. Also featured in brief roles throughout the film are Ted Danson, Bryan Cranston and Paul Giamatti amongst a host of others.
The film begins with an old army veteran overwhelmed by emotion upon visiting the Normandy American Memorial and Cemetery which becomes a running theme throughout the film, with Director Speilberg interspersing scenes of the elderly man amongst the main story. Cutting back to the mid-1940s, the film follows the US 2nd Ranger Battalion as they journey behind enemy lines, deep into Nazi-occupied France, to recover the diminutive private James Ryan (Damon) after his brothers had all been killed in combat.
Arriving, in the midst of sheer pandemonium and blood-soaked horror, on “Omaha” beach during the D-day landings, Captain Miller (Hanks) and his men must storm the corpse ridden bay to break the Nazi’s hold on the area. Embarking on a mission deep into hostile territory to recover the lost Ryan brother, Miller’s team, one by one, experiences the gruesome savagery of war and must utilise their resilience, cunning and ruthless if they ever want to step foot on American soil again.