D-Day and Battle of Normandy Encyclopedia

Saving Private Ryan and History

Relations between History and the Saving Private Ryan movie

Saving Private Ryan

The film “Saving Private Ryan” has, on the whole, fairly well respected the history of the landing.

The first part, that of the landing at Omaha Beach, is quite respectful towards History, except for what will be mentioned below:

The sea, after the landing, was not red with blood, but black because of the German shells which sank into the mud and made it rise to the surface.

– The place found to turn the scene (in Ireland) does not resemble the beaches of the landing of Normandy.

– The landing in the film seems very short compared to what the American soldiers endured on June 6, 1944 in the morning. Some units remained more than 5 hours on the beach without being able to advance an inch.

– The beach defenses called “Rommel Asparagus”, whose purpose was to damage the hulls of the landing craft, are placed upside down in the film.

– Contrary to an idea too widespread and shared again in this film, not all American amphibious tanks have flowed in the English Channel. Indeed, some units were very severely hit, but no fewer than 58 tanks reached the beach in the early hours of the assault at Omaha Beach. To learn more about amphibious armored vehicles, click here.

The second part of the film, which represents the vast majority of the Battle of Normandy, delivers the plot of the film and is inspired by the environment of these 90 days of fighting for Americans in the Normandy bocage. The fact is that at the beginning of the war four brothers, the Niland brothers, who were united within the same unit, were killed when the boat they served was sunk during a Japanese attack In the Pacific. This loss to the Niland family provoked a strong reaction on the part of American public opinion and all the brothers who served in the same unit were separated to avoid such a misadventure. The film “Saving Private Ryan” is inspired by this real fact but adapts it. To learn more about the Niland brothers, click here.

This film is the most realistic of the feature films on the landing of Omaha Beach. The camera games, which have been used on the shoulder, give a presence effect to the very innovative action that all modern warfare films take up (for example, Michael Bay’s “Pearl Harbor” movie, 2001) .

Sound is a fundamental part of the film. To the point of perfection, the sounds of bullets entering the flesh were taken by specialists who fired live bullets on lifeless carcasses of cattle.

The equipment carried by the actors of “Saving Private Ryan” are authentic. Director Steven Spielberg wanted his actors to feel the weight of weapons, fighting bags and vintage shoes so that their movements would be the most faithful to those of the soldiers of the Second World War. This detail has its importance in that the unity represented by Tom Hanks and his men is the Ranger Battalion, an elite unit of the US Army.

To represent the story in the smallest details: this notion appears to be essential to the filmmakers of war films since the end of the 1990s. It was an era too close to the war where the films had to remember the victory without the pain and the sacrifices, And who were ultimately not respectful of history in large part. Nowadays, directors seem to be seeking perfection, in the most realistic possible way, while being careful not to forget these pains and sacrifices. Our need to commemorate the past and to remember the facts of war like these go through a high level of detail, like films like “Saving Private Ryan” or “Band of Brothers”, often violent but realistic.

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