"I take orders from the Octoboss."

Saving Private Ryan

tn_sprspielbergNo joke, I never saw SAVING PRIVATE RYAN before. I’ve never been big on war movies and I think back when it was a recent movie I was real cynical and suspicious of any type of flagwaving. I thought movies like this were just brainwashing kids to join up in case they needed to blow up Iraq again.

But that’s stupid. This one’s about “the good war” and still makes it look like something to avoid at all costs. The famous Omaha Beach invasion sequence near the beginning is a total bloodbath, soldiers pouring off the boats into waves of machine gun bullets. They might as well just be jumping from a diving board directly into a giant fan, it seems like.

Just like everybody always said, this is an extremely well made movie. But I also shoulda known it was important for me to watch as one of the key originators of our current low point in action filmatism. Much like JAWS accidentally unleashed decades of expensive summer movies this great sequence convinced a thousand lesser directors that if the camera isn’t steady the action is automatically more thrilling. Spielberg and director of photography Janusz Kaminski (COOL AS ICE [seriously, look it up]) shot the battle like a combat photographer, putting our point of view on shaky ground right in the thick of it. Bullets and shrapnel whiz by our ears, things explode all around us, at least once blood gets on the lens, acknowledging that we are watching this through a camera.

mp_sprBut of course this is Steven Spielberg, he’s a professional. He has pride. He’s not gonna just whip the thing around at random and pretend he was filming something good. Even while intentionally creating chaos he’s secretly being careful, maintaining the audience’s sense of geography. We feel like we need to stay on our toes to know what’s going on, but we do know what’s going on. The soldiers repeatedly use and discuss the meaning of the word “fubar,” so it’s only right that the style be called fubar style. But when Spielberg uses it it’s not beyond all recognition. It’s only when other people use it.

It’s also telling that even after the huge popularity of this scene Spielberg didn’t keep using the handheld style. For example WAR HORSE has big battle scenes (SPOILER) and they use the more traditionally Spielbergian smooth crane shots. He obviously considered it to be the right way to shoot this particular movie, not every action scene made for now on. I think there was a bit of a misunderstanding there, I hope it gets cleared up.

As great as the scene is I have to think I missed out on some of its power by seeing it all these years later after many imitators and hearing all about it. At the time it was considered so shocking they sent out warnings to the theaters, and there were reports of veterans not being able to handle it because they’d never seen their experience depicted as accurately (or as horrifyingly?) on screen. There are guts spilling and way too many people dying and shit, but I guess I’m desensitized.

What I really like about this sequence is the look on the face of Tom Hanks as everything goes south. It could’ve been some grizzled Tom Berenger type, and it would’ve made alot of sense, but putting Hanks in the role changes it. He’s not a traditional movie warrior, he has vulnerability. It makes sense when he says he’s a school teacher back at home. He’s a professional, he’s good at his job, he stays quiet until something needs to be said, and they all respect him for it. But also when he gets on that beach and sees human bodies exploding all around him – his men, that he led there – he looks horrified. He’s Tom Hanks, not Rambo.

Man, this cast is a real who-was-about-to-be-who of late ’90s Hollywood. I knew Vin Diesel was gonna be in there in his first not-directed-by-himself role – didn’t know what a big part it was, though. Matt Damon fresh off of GOOD WILL HUNTING. Paul Giamatti the year after he blew up in PRIVATE PARTS (he mainly did movies with “Private” in the title). Giovanni Ribisi before, uh, THE OTHER SISTER. Tom Sizemore before DTV and sex tapes. Did you know the wrong Private Ryan they find first is that guy Nathan Fillion that the internet loves? And I noticed Max Martini from REDBELT. And of course Jeremy Davies from Justified, Barry Pepper from THREE BURIALS OF MELQUIADES ESTRADA, Ed Burns, Adam Goldberg, Dennis Farina, Leland Orser (the guy who freaks out in ALIEN RESURRECTION), Harve Presnell, Bryan Cranston… even Ted Danson? Shit man, everybody‘s in this movie. Unless they’re a woman, then they’re pretty much for sure not in it. Sorry ladies.

They put together a good group of characters and put them in an interesting situation. First we see the worst nightmare of combat, a total massacre. Then we find out how back home this poor woman has lost all but one of her sons. We see concern about this old lady somehow make its way through the bureaucracy to the top and become a mission: go find this Private Ryan dude and get him the fuck out of there in one piece for the sake of his poor mother. I mean they signed up for it and everything but we don’t want that on our consciences.

It’s a nice idea: war is hell, save this guy’s ass, this family has sacrificed enough, cut them a small break. But when the idea is actually put into motion it brings up alot of questions. What about these guys on the mission, what if a bunch of them die trying to save one guy? What about their mothers? And of course when they actually find him what do you think he’s gonna do, is he gonna want to go home? No, he’s there to fight. If his brothers have all died for the cause he has all the more reason to stubbornly keep going. So nobody’s exactly happy with this situation. There is some complaining, some arguing, some learning, some intense sniper attacks reminiscent of FULL METAL JACKET.

To me Davies has the most tragic character. He’s the one that hasn’t been burned by war yet. He holds onto his pre-war values. He has a sense of honor. Instead of killing an enemy soldier he lets him go, with the idea that his threat has been neutralized and it’s better to save a human life, and what if the tables were turned, what would he want to happen to himself. But then that’s the guy that ends up shooting Hanks. So this kid’s whole code is crushed. The lesson he learns is the same one that Diesel learned too late: don’t do “the decent thing” (in his case trying to carry a little girl to safety). So at the end this guy’s a total mess, his decency proven unsuitable for the world. He’s the one I want to see in the graveyard at the end, because what the hell happened to that poor guy?

You know, I I used to always confuse Jeremy Davies with Henry Thomas. It would’ve been kinda cool to see Elliott show up in other Spielberg pictures. Maybe Thomas turned it down so they decided to hire a lookalike and he turned out to be good. I don’t know that to be true but maybe I’ll go ahead and submit it to IMDB trivia.

Another missed opportunity for a Spielberg self-homage is when they talk about the same plane li’l Christian Bale was so excited about in EMPIRE OF THE SUN. “They’re Tankbusters, sir. P-51s.” Would it have killed ‘im to say “Cadillac of the Sky”?

I know some people think the wraparound scenes of elderly Private Ryan visiting the cemetery are corny, but it seemed to me like they make the movie’s point. Without those scenes it’s another story of things that happened a long time ago, removed from our lives. With them it connects “the war” to our everyday lives back home, the grey faded film stock to a sunny afternoon. It shows us how everybody that survives a war is a person with a life and a family.

SAVING PRIVATE RYAN is all about the horrible math of war: Miller tells himself that every man that dies under his command is being traded for more lives saved. And they worry that the Germans they don’t kill could go on to kill other Americans. Ryan is left his whole life worrying about whether he lived a life that justified that equation. And that also asks those of us who aren’t veterans to live lives that justify all those sacrifices. Shit, I gotta get going.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, January 31st, 2012 at 1:29 am and is filed under Drama, Reviews, War. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

103 Responses to “Saving Private Ryan”

  1. The movie has a seriously bad reputation in Europe. Or let’s say “It’s not considered the kind of masterpiece, that it is in the US”. Everybody agreed that the opening massacre is some breathtaking and shocking piece of war-is-hell depiction, but the rest of the movie seemed a little bit too much hooray-for-the-American-superheroes for most Europeans, starting with the hard to believe* premise of bringing one unimportant young soldier home and ending with the scene where Tom Hanks dies a heroic death underneath a waving American flag.
    I really can’t remember it at all. I know that I didn’t like it that much either, but I wanted to give it a 2nd try one day anyway.
    Oh, and Til Schweiger was offered a role, but he turned it down, because he didn’t want to play the stereotypical Hollywood Nazi.

    *I know, the rule that you have to get the 4th son out if his brothers all dies apparently does (did?) exist, it’s just hard to believe that any military force of any country at any time would give a shit about it, right in the middle of such a big war.

  2. That first 20minutes were something special to see on the big screen, but I agree that it has become a mite diluted by inferior imitators in the last fifteen years. The rest of the movie always felt quieter by comparison, but the bridge scene is brilliantly laid-out.

    There’s some truth in what’s said above the European reaction; American World War movies always downplay (to the point of parody, one might argue) the role of the non-American allies, who had a lot more to lose, and in many cases did.

    Having said that, THE THIN RED LINE came out a month later and remains one of my favourite films ever, but was (perhaps inevitably) overshadowed by RYAN’s flashy opening. Which has stood the test of time better?*

    *unsubtle plea for a THIN RED LINE review; c’mon Vern, it’s hot all the lyrical beauty of TREE OF LIFE but set in Guadacanal during WW2! Do it!

  3. If you take the entire film to be a flashback, which you can be forgiven for assuming so, it makes no sense that Private Ryan is “remembering” it because he was not on Omaha Beach to see what Tom Hanks and his squad went through.

  4. the message of the film seems to be that war makes people disposable and they can die at any time with no warning. like the guy who dies from a grenade attack right at the edge of the shot – he’s not even fully on screen and then he’s gone.

    but then they undermine that message by giving tom hanks a slo mo hollywood death… just felt like the movie broke its own rule there…

    have to agree though that if you dug SPR and TOL you are perfectly primed to review The Thin Red Line now

  5. The winners of WWII are such badass heroes. Even if they weren’t all each & every one of them amazing supersoldiers or whatever, they did what they had to do to kill the bad guys & support the good guys. Nationwide teamwork & worldwide alliances to achieve global victory. Wonder what that feels like. Anyway, Rangers lead the way, all the way, airborne, H-minus, sua sponte, tip of the spear, de opresso liber.

    It’s pretty remarkable that a 1990s movie could be properly respectful toward WWII vets, be realistically balanced in its portrayal of the enemy, and still be great mass entertainment. But Spielberg & Vanilla Ice’s cinematographer did it.

    I’m not sure about “masterpiece,” CJ, but thinking back I can’t detect any significant, damaging flaws in SAVING PRIVATE RYAN. It’s a big, rah-rah America movie, I reckon, but it demonstrates restraint as well.

    The tragedy of the final follow-on mission, when the Rangers plan to hold ground & use sticky bombs on tanks & demolish the bridge, is surprisingly understated when it could have been played for sentimental ludicrousness. The script didn’t make it a pivotal, historic battle, and they didn’t remark on how futile it was to give their lives for a small patch of land.

    Similarly, the individual-level ridiculousness of the bigger mission, described when Captain (Tom Hanks) curtly says “Our mission is to win the war” in response to someone questioning his call to assault an enemy squad & thereby briefly diverge from the unit’s stated primary mission of locating Ryan, could have been played for more gallows sentimentality & war movie cliche philosophizing. Instead, it’s treated as just a thing that happens. It’s intense and memorable, sure, but it’s not overreaching for deeper meaning or unearned sentiment.

    The bookend scenes, however, do maybe have the problem of being too, um, SCHINDLER’S LIST-ey. But it apparently worked out well for Vern’s viewing experience, and like I said, there are no significant, ruinous flaws in SAVING PRIVATE RYAN.

    Vern’s right about the action filmatism. The famous Normandy Omaha charge scene was shot in a kind of p-o-v style, and the chaos & shakiness reflects explosions, confusion, blood loss, and head injuries. There’s no [post-action] demon that interrupts the shot with multiple split-second cuts whenever someone’s body is about to suffer a physical impact.

    Vern seems to like the weenie interpreter character. I kinda despise him (not for the obvious reasons of his being a weak soldier, but only for one specific reason — failure to perform his one assigned duty, to deliver ammo in a timely fashion, in the climactic skirmish, plus he cries). But we both like SAVING PRIVATE RYAN a lot. That’s the mark of a successful, interesting film, when different audiences find different flaws & different avenues of accolade but overall agree that it’s a good one.

    Enough commentating, shit, I gotta go invent a longer lasting light bulb or something to make WWII vets’ sacrifices worth it.

  6. I’ll always remember this movie because me and my buddy paid to go see Baseketball and snuck into Saving Private Ryan. Talk about changing gears.

  7. Also I can’t believe Vern hasn’t reviewed Cool As Ice. There’s some crazy shit going on in that one.

  8. Ah COOL AS ICE. I remember Vanilla Ice seeing a girl he liked riding a horse and he decides to hop over the fence dividing them on his goddamn suziki sports bike. Ends up scaring the life out of the horse she’s riding and the poor girl ends up falling off the horse and eating the floor. Real smooth there Ice; or shall I say COOL. Billy Dee Williams himself would be jealous.

    And who could forget the classic poster tagline “When a girl has a heart of stone, there’s only one way to melt it. Just add Ice.” that shit doesn’t even make any sense.

  9. Back to PRIVATE RYAN; I still think this has the most intense knife fight in the history of modern cinema. Haven’t seen the movie since ’98 since I never even bought it but that shit still stays in my mind for whatever reason. Powerful filmatism there Señor Spielbergo.

  10. Have to agree with though that Hanks’ death scene did seem terribly hamfisted & melodramatic. Probably one of the reasons I never really felt compelled to revisit this one. A lot of the film felt like forced pathos actually and that never sat quite right with me. Also agree with Jam about THE THIN RED LINE. I still rewatch that one to this day while I haven’t seen PRIVATE RYAN since it’s year of release.

  11. Now that I think of it I think the opening scene’s controversy ended up as a stroke of marketing genius. I mean I’ll be honest and say it’s why I saw the movie. I was 15 at the time and completely pumped for all the carnage. Then when the movie starts my step mom tries her best to get me to look away from the screen during those first 15 to 20 minutes.

    Never mind the fact that I grew up on horror & action films; to her this was nothing like gratuitous violence. It was just too “gritty” and “dangerously poetic in it’s realism” for my eyes or whatever the fuck. I’m like “WTF man quit cock blocking cause this scene is why I came here in the first place.” I mean in the event of a war; 3 years later I would be able to see such brutality first hand anyway if I felt like it by enlisting. But that goes to show you how unprepared the world was for the complete mindfucking Spielberg gave it with that classic opening sequence. Totally deserved the Oscar for that alone.

  12. man Vern, you really missed out by not seeing this one in theaters, this is still, to this day, probably the best movie that I got to see in theaters that I can still remember clearly

    even though it was a long time ago, I’ll never forget seeing that opening sequence on the big screen, I mean wow, you had NEVER seen anything like that before, it was literally jaw dropping, it was beyond intense…

    I really need to re-watch my blu ray of it

    anyway for me when it comes to the best war movie ever made, I’m split between this and Full Metal Jacket

    I don’t think I can choose which one is better, I mean I love FMJ, it’s one of my favorite movies in fact, I love how raw and realistic it feels, it’s more like watching a documentary than a movie, Saving Private Ryan definitively feels more like a “movie” than FMJ does, but still, that Omaha beach sequence man, it’s second to none

    I guess I’ll cop out and say they’re both equally the best war movies ever made

  13. Broddie – it may sound kind of strange, but I was 8 years old when I saw Saving Private Ryan in theaters and my parents didn’t try to hide my eyes or anything

    that may be surprising, but my parents respected my intelligence, never talked down to me and didn’t try to sugar coat it, they treated the movie as an important history lesson and I’m very glad they had that attitude

    about a year and a half or so later they let me watch Full Metal Jacket on video and again they treated it as an important lesson about history and life in general

    I think it’s good for kids to get blunt, uncompromising info about the way the world is every now and then

  14. I agree with that Griff. I think if my parents had always sheltered me away from stuff I would’ve came around to seeing somehow anyway it would’ve actually been damaging.

    Since they did allow me to watch shit like ROBOCOP and THE EXORCIST as a small boy though I got to appreciate it more as great examples of “make believe” and what the imagination could conjure up instead. Cause they made it their business to explain to me since I was 4 that it was all “pretend”. So it really got me into loving the creative arts that way as I always admired the make up jobs and dedication to the other technical crafts in such flicks. Same with action flicks.

    Those trips to the cinema to see the likes of UNDER SIEGE and ON DEADLY GROUND mom and dad took me on made me appreciate the art of action choreography to the fullest. It didn’t inspire me to go kick the kids on the playground at school. But again I had someone there to let me know it’s all make believe and break it down proper. I think it’s healthy for parents to open up their kids to “uglier” types of media cause the world is ugly as fuck anyway and at least that way they could guide the child with the proper information instead of the ugliness taking said child by surprise in a future time.

    My step mom on the other hand was weird though. I mean I had watched PULP FICTION with her and shit and THIS is what she thinks would fuck up my psyche? LOL

    In my opinion PULP had way more psychologically damaging shit than PRIVATE RYAN’s opening sequence; though it never damaged me. But again I grew up watching the likes of 48 HOURS, SCARFACE and COMMANDO so there wasn’t much that could warp my mind by that point. Since it disturbed her she couldn’t imagine how disturbing it would be to my 15 year old mind I guess. Cause again in light of the imitators maybe we take the brutality of that scene for granted now a days but at the time that type of brutality was unheard of.

    In think it was just such a visceral and raw experience at the time that she couldn’t fathom it not traumatizing me lol but it had a different effect on me entirely. It was that scene in part that shed light on just how cruel and vile war could be to me so it actually got me to read up a whole lot on WWII something I would’ve never done otherwise. Who says movies don’t enable education?

  15. Oh and I like FMJ more. But then again as you said I wouldn’t even really classify it as a war movie like I would SPR. I’d label it more as a great character study. After all the best segment of that film is the boot camp training part which is ALL character driven. The actual war part of the movie isn’t so hot and seems kinda boring in comparison. Though I’ll always love it for inspiring a classic TWO LIVE CREW strip club banger.

  16. Hey Griff —

    I too dig Full Metal Jacket like nobody’s business, but I disagree when you write, “I love how raw and realistic (FMJ) feels, it’s more like watching a documentary than a movie…” Maybe it’s just because Kubrick famously shot his movies on soundstages and whatnot, but the second half of the movie feels stagey rather than documentary to me. Still awesome, but I don’t think awesome for the reason you cited.

  17. Is it weird to say this movie’s underrated? It got One Star(!) in the local paper here, and i think common perception is the opening scene was a classic and the movie goes downhill after that. I totally disagree and think the final battle might be even better. Not only do we care about the characters more, but there’s also the amazing filmatism, the sense of geography of where everyone is, the aforementioned squirm-inducing knife fight, the amazing sniper POV shots (this might be the only movie to use a sniper POV shot where he looks like he “misses” the target but is really just adjusting for windage/movement, etc..) Hell, I love the bookend scenes, the humor/character development, even the whole middle section. I love the feeling after it’s over when you just sit there and don’t want to talk to anyone. This is a bona fide classic and probably the last movie I’ve rated 10/10 on IMDB now that I think about it.

    I’ve only seen Thin Red Line once in the theatre, and have never revisited it, I think my young mind wasn’t ready for Malick just yet (I saw Days of Heaven a few years later and was blown away). I’d probably love it if I watch it now.

  18. Death of Tom Hanks character? The old guy book ending the film is Tom Hanks character.

  19. Johnny Utah – I’m afraid I’m going to have to strongly, but respectively disagree with you there, I actually just re-watched Full Metal Jacket a little over a week ago and the movie definitively felt like a documentary to me and I think that that’s a very intentional stylistic choice

    I mean it actually shows a camera crew filming at one point and then it shows interviews with the soldiers from the camera’s perceptive

    plus every thing is down on the ground, from the soldiers point of view (save for the shots from the sniper’s point of view), the scenes of the soldiers running feel like the camera man’s running alongside them

    but overall the movie just feels very realistic to me

    I think it pioneered some of techniques that Spielberg later used for Saving Private Ryan

  20. neal2zod I was also 15 when I saw THIN RED LINE and the movie kicked my ass on so many levels. Maybe the fact that I was really really stoned had something to do with it cause Malick’s visual poetry is at it’s most effective when inebriated IMO but then again I’ve watched it sober a lot since then and I still take something new away from it everytime. Such a well layered piece of cinema there.

    Sternshein – I recall that the old man was Damon’s character (the titular Private) visiting Hanks’ grave. It’s been years but they made an issue out of his arthritis like state for the entire movie then once you see his hand is no longer trembling after his last words you know his soul has gone somewhere else.

  21. A few things:

    1. It’s actually not a flashback. The graveyard scenes are more a framing device (and kind’ve a cheap trick to make you think it’s Captain Miller having a flashback but–surprise! It’s not, cause they Saved Private Ryan!) I suspect it’s inspired by Lawrence Of Arabia, which has a similar structure.

    2. Something like the mission to get the last surviving brother really did happen. I think the family’s name was Neiland, and they did have four sons in the Armed Forces in WWII, and after D-Day their mother actually did get death notices for three of them on the same day. (One of them was in error–the guy was only wounded, not dead.) So the military decided to get the fourth son and remove him from combat. In reality, some officer just got in a jeep, drove up to the front lines, went to the soldier’s unit and took him back to headquarters.

    Suggested further viewing: Battleground; A Walk In The Sun; and Sam Fuller’s great The Steel Helmet.

    And terrific review, Vern, as usual. I’ve always found it so moving when Ryan stays with his fellow paratroopers. “These are the only brothers I have left….” That just says it all.

  22. CJ Holden:
    “The movie has a seriously bad reputation in Europe. Or let’s say “It’s not considered the kind of masterpiece, that it is in the US”

    Don’t know which Reputation you talk about CJ, every Critic i read at the time praised “Ryan” rightfully as one of Spiebergs best, a Picture that proved the old cornball, learned a thing or two from Peckinpah and Fuller.

  23. I personally never talked to any European who likes the movie and remember many critics, who were lukewarm to negative about it. Yes, there were also some who praised it as masterpiece too, but even they often seemed to praise it more for the technical aspects and the first 20 minutes, than for the rest of the movie itself. Some of it changed after the movie won Awards (which happens very often among critics), but I remember how it was often regarded as just another “how the perfect Americans saved the bumbling Europeans from the drooling Nazi zombies” movie.

  24. Umm, CJ, sorry but I don’t agree at all. It is pretty much considered a masterpiece in Germany at leasr and was highly praised when it came out. No backlash either. This is the first time I’m hearing something like you say…

  25. I could say the same to you. I hardly found any too positive reviews about the movie over the last 10 years (outside of TV magazines, who give every huge Hollywood movie a good rating anyway) and even had trouble with finding “real” persons who liked it. Sure that you aren’t confusing it with SCHINDLER’S LIST?

  26. CJ Holden: Just curious, do you recall how THE LIVES OF OTHERS was reviewed in your corner of Europe?

  27. I don’t know how any critic can say that SAVING PRIVATE RYAN shows “perfect Americans.” In modern Army parlance, we’d say that, tactically, those guys were all jacked up.

    I don’t 2nd guess operations planning or battle formation movement 6 decades after the fact, but I will state the obvious and say that the Nazis fucked the Americans up at Normandy, and the movie shows this. What an absurd idea that operation was. What dickhead commander thought that frontline wouldn’t be obliterated by machine guns? Or, worse, realized they were going to be mowed down, but okayed the mission anyway?

    There’s a bunch of self-inflicted fucked-upness on the side of the Americans, too; they didn’t need the Nazis to shoot them in order to get all FUBAR at the regimental level. The airborne assault resulted in hundreds of paratroopers either dying within moments of exiting their aircraft or landing in almost completely the wrong objective area. (I don’t even want to revisit the number of American KIA in the 82nd’s previous combat jumps at Sicily & Salerno.)

    When I’ve parachuted from a plane at Bragg, my biggest fear is the wind taking me a few feet over into the trees, where a clean landing is impossible but ultimately merely inconvenient. I can’t imagine preparing for the most important high-volume combat operation in history and then landing behind enemy lines, surrounded by armed Nazis, or landing alone in the dark in some grove overlooking an empty, half-destroyed church & cemetery, into safety but still behind enemy lines. Holy shit, that’s hardcore.

    And the Americans were fucked up on the ground during their Ryan extraction mission, too. Ed Burns acts like a little bitch. Tom Sizemore acts like a little punk. They spend way too much time hovering over corpses. The squad medic never should have been within grenade range.

    Barry Pepper as the sniper is fucking amazing. He is absolutely the perfect soldier. He says the right things, does the right things, is tactically proficient & highly skilled, and morally upstanding & trustworthy. He doesn’t complain, and he’s an efficient killer. Awesome.

    The captain finally shows some personal professional integrity when he withholds his “back home” story. I know, it also was a sweet character moment in the script, and that’s why it’s meaningful in the movie, but I see it as a commissioned officer keeping up that barrier between him and the enlisted grunts.

  28. It has at very good reputation in Norway, but of course we are very Americanized with American TV-series on television with subtitles every hour. I remember everyone talked about this film when it came out, and wanted to see it, and when I did my mandatory military duty we where watching Saving Private Ryan everyday for a week when we was on duty (this was in 2002/03). So it hasn’t got a bad reputation here.

    But I know Saving Private Ryan have got bad reputation with people that think Steven Spielberg is an hack (it was this show where they where discussion that if you wrote about Spielberg being a hack in film school you would only get a C because he was such and obvious and easy target) and also I ready few analyzes and essays that criticizes the film heavily. They think they all where from American, so Spielberg also has got an American backlash.

  29. As european, I don’t take any offense at the movie’s lack of any of the other allied forces. I understand t’s apparently realistic that the areas depicted would largely have US troops, and aside from Danson dismissing Montgomery at one point, there’s really nothing negative in the depiction of the other forces. SAVING PRIVATE RYAN’s fine as a piece of fiction set around a historical setting. It’s not like U-571, where they depict america as capturing the first enigma machine rather than the british. Or THE GREAT ESCAPE, where the americans get to hijack fighter planes and go on motorbike chases(despite the american POWs being transferred to another camp before the tunnelling was completed in real life), and being among the few not to be executed for the disproportionate amount of trouble they cause once on the loose. But I let that one slide because it is pretty entertaining.

    And at least the american Hollywood re-write thing gave us this:
    (funnier just as a trailer than the actual movie)

  30. Speaking of…wow, Vern’s never reviewed THE GREAT ESCAPE? But it’s got Bronson AND McQueen in it! And Coburn, and Garner, and Pleasance, and Attenborough…

  31. I think the main problem Saving Private Ryan faced in Europe was that it was sold as a historically correct film about the horrors of war, and it turned out it wasn’t. Hollywood doesn’t do important. They leave that to Russian and German film makers. We should have known better. Apart from the first 20 minutes, the rest of the movie is The Dirty Dozen. Don’t get me wrong I love it, but just as an adventure war movie along the lines of Guns of Navarone, not as anything weighty or important. But damn, I miss Tom Sizemore!

  32. Oh, and it gave us the best porn title ever; Shaving Ryan’s Privates.

  33. Jareth: THE LIFE OF OTHERS got lots and lots of great reviews and the audience loved it too. Interesting enough, when GOOD BYE LENIN premiered at the Berlin Film Festival, many critics didn’t like it and called it a boring movie on TV level. Then it suddenly won the award for Best Movie and they all revised their opinion.

  34. You all need to see The Fighting Sullivans. It’s the movie made about the five brothers who all died in battle, which pretty much put the Sole Survivor Policy in motion. It’s what gives SPR its premise. It’s a really nice, little WW2 movie.


  35. Maybe Cj, you just spoke to zee jermans about zee movie?

  36. Yep, the first time I watched SAVING PRIVATE RYAN I thought it was great. Then shortly after that I watched THE THIN RED LINE and RYAN was completely forgotten. THE THIN RED LINE changed my life and turned me into a devout Malick apostle (Malickite?).

    It forever changed my outlook on cinema as an artform and is to this day one of my favourite films (right alongside Malick’s other masterpiece THE NEW WORLD).

    Maybe it’s time I rewatch RYAN, if only to see Diesel and that Ted Danson cameo.

  37. Even if I did watch this flick in cinemas (which i did not), It would by no means be a more superior experience than FROM DUSK TIL DAWN in an near empty cinema. That kind of awesome shit can´t be surpassed by mortal men, not even american WW2 super-soldiers. Sorry But RYAN´S PRIVATES is no FDTD.

  38. I also saw FROM DUSK TILL DAWN in a near empty theater. But we all went to see BROKEN ARROW actually and since their print got fucked up they offered rain checks or just stay for another movie that they had the print to. When I found out the other movie was FDTD I just stayed. No regrets on that to this day especially since FDTD ended up being a way better movie than BA was.

  39. Man, SPR is a totally awesome movie.

    If you want to look at it as a BIG SERIOUS MOVIE, it delivers. Horrors of war, value of a man’s life, brotherhood of warriors; it’s packing all that in spades.

    If you want to look at it as a BADASS WAR MOVIE, it delivers. Huge set-piece battles, awesome ambushes, total badasses everywhere; it’s got plenty of that as well.

    I know sometimes folks want movies to be important, historically accurate, touching, thrilling, meaningful, beautiful, sexual and wonderful. Hell, I want that stuff from movies too. But there are times, most of the time in fact, that you gotta just take them for what they are. Entertainment, and sometimes art.

    I believe SPR is absolutely good entertainment, and has enough meaning that it is verging on art. It looks great, it hits hard and it delivers the goods. FMJ is just too crazy and intense, and maybe that’s a function of the conflict it portrays. While SPR is beautifully shot and often gut-wrenching, but definitely inspiring (WWII was a righteous war, as pure as that sort of thing can be); FMJ is dirty, gritty, crazy and depressing, just like ‘Nam was, I guess.

  40. I see where others are coming from, and I appreciate it when they agree with me on the overall grading of these different war movies, but I can’t even bring myself to compare SPR with a Malick or a Kubrick. Come the fuck on.

    I mean, by all means, continue the conversation if you desire, no offense intended, but those 2 names, in my opinion, are above & beyond that conversation, and FMJ & TTRL strive for & accomplish very different things. It almost seems like comparing John Ashbery to Tom Clancy or something.

    Thinking about Barry Pepper’s perfect badass soldier in SPR, I remembered probably the most recent perfect badass [non-Universal] soldier in cinema — Adrien Brody in PREDATORS. So I rewatched it, and I feel that Brody’s character is like what Pepper’s character would have become had he survived (spoiler) & been promoted a few times. Tactically & technically proficient, aware of his surroundings, probing, observant, heroic but reluctant to *try* to be extra-heroic, and minimalist with the chitchat.

    Anyway, Nimrod Antal & Robert Rodriguez & crew should be happy with their PREDATORS, and Vern’s review shows him in top form as well:
    Definitely worth a look & a read if you haven’t seen that fine resequelboot already or if, like me, you want to rewatch it from the angle of comparing onscreen military badasses in SPR & PREDATORS.

  41. Have to second all of the mentions of THE THIN RED LINE. I’d seen SPR in the theater 3 times when I was 17 and was obsessed with it, and desperately needed to get my WWII fix once it left the theaters. I kept hearing about this new film from this reclusive director who hadn’t made a film in 20 years, so I decided to check it out, telling myself there was no way it was going to amount to more than an ass-hair on SPR. God, was I wrong. THE THIN RED LINE floored me. What the opening of SPR had done viscerally, the entirety of TTRL had done…I guess you could say, poetically? Spiritually? Something fruity a 17 yr old doesn’t want to cop to. Anyway, I immediately searched out BADLANDS and DAYS OF HEAVEN, and was floored again and again. Vern, review more Malick!

  42. Nothing of any great substance to add, other then my opinion. I like this movie a lot. It fried my young teenage brain when I saw it in theaters, and I bought it about a year ago and found I loved it again on video.

    Choice bits;

    Omaha beach scene.
    Vin Diesel’s death.
    Adam Goldberg’s struggle with the German while Jeremy Davies just stands by like a bitch and lets homie get stuck.
    BPepps taking up a position in the tower for the end battle.

  43. I saw this in the theater and man that Omaha beach sequence was probably the most harrowing movie going experiences I’ve ever had. It was really like being a battle, feeling terror and horror all at once. It really effected the rest of the movie Like after the battle’s all over they cut to a shot of a girl back home, a secretary in Washington and she seemed to be like the beautiful thing ever. Years later when I saw it again on TV frankly she was only okay looking! It’s just that the sight of a woman, something feminine, far from the barbarism and brutality of what we just saw was like a breath of fresh air. Also later, the rain on leaves during the night at first sounded like machine gun fire.

  44. Rehydrated Dehydrated Pirate Paul

    January 31st, 2012 at 6:44 pm

    CJ – “The movie has a seriously bad reputation in Europe.”

    Oh yes. Oh indeed yes. Mathias, I dunno what Germany has to say about it, but in the UK this movie is largely HATED. And I mean really, really hated. I know several people who can’t stand it.

    Oddly enough, I don’t share their attitude, mainly because I think nationalism is another form of the herding instinct that unfortunately seems to predominate human culture long after any necessity for it has ended. (Also see: party politics, sports “supporters”, Apple vs Linux, and religion.) I don’t “get” that instinct. I sure as hell don’t share it. I’m as prejudiced as the next guy but it’s almost always individually, hardly ever in favour of any particular facet of society, largely because I have equal contempt for all groups… anyway…

    My friend, who I’ve mentioned before on this very forum, the one who persuaded me to go and see “Bad Boys 2” with him, couldn’t stand this. I… wasn’t so fussed. I could appreciate the craftsmanship, and the big battle scenes are fantastic and memorable (two moments that stand out for me: the two men who meet in the room at the end of the film, and the headshot in the opening battle. Great directing there.) It’s been a long, long time since I’ve seen it so I couldn’t tell you how well the characters stand up, etc.

    Oh, and “Thin Red Line” hit my where “Saving Private Ryan” failed to do. Gotta agree with David Lambert on that one.

    On the plus side for SPR, “U-571” made the British look almost kindly upon it.

  45. Paul— I wonder sometimes if me and you are living in the same England, because everyone in my England thinks Saving Private Ryan is a great movie. They also think that Gary Oldman is a great actor and that ice cream tastes good. I don’t know what you did to be cast out into the hideous parallel dimension you seem to be living in but it must’ve been way worse than whatever landed Vern in jail.

  46. Paul – Just curious: what’s the reputation of WHERE EAGLES DARE in the UK? Someone years back from over there claimed it was a popular Union-Jack porno over there. (The movie does kick ass though, so it is good porn.)

    So Vern, what about LOST WORLD? You know you skipped that, right?

  47. The real badasses of World War II were the Russians/ Ukrainians/ Soviets. They were chewed up by the German war machinery and just chewed right back. Check out this jaw dropping story:


    The Germans attacked the building several times a day. Each time German infantry or tanks tried to cross the square and to close in on the house, Pavlov’s men laid down a withering barrage of machine gun and AT rifle fire from the basement, the windows and from the roof top, devastating the German attackers and forcing them to retreat. By mid-November, Pavlov’s men reportedly had to use lulls in the fighting to run out and kick over the heaped piles of German corpses so they could not be used as cover for the next round of attackers.

    Eventually the defenders, as well as the Soviet civilians who kept living in the basement all that time, held out during intensive fighting from 27 September – 25 November 1942, when they were relieved by the counter-attacking Soviet forces.

  48. Till this day I still think Giovani Ribisis death in this movie is the most realistic depiction of what it is like to slowly die of a gunshot wound and I doubt it will ever be surpassed.

    It’s really difficult to hear him saying he wants his momma cause I know that’s what I’d be saying if, god forbid, I ever found myself gutshot.

    Love this movie though.

    I’ve heard Damons story about his brothers and that girl in the barn was completely improvised.

  49. BR B – wasn’t Herzog working to make a movie about Pavlov’s House with Bale?

  50. There were aspects of this movie that were so gritty and amazing. I still think of that opening and how after it was over the waves crashing on the sand were red with blood. I cannot imagine how much blood it would take to turn the ocean red.

    It was impressive how it could go from something this big & overwhelming, showing how much it jars even a veteran soldier like Tom Hanks character & then they can go on & seem so unaffected by smaller acts of horror that happen along the way. It’s been years since I’ve seen it, but I remember some scene with Giovanni Ribisi calmly trying to give medical aid while everyone pretty much stands around waiting. I don’t remember the details of the scene, so I could be wrong about the unaffected tone.

    I have to admit that I thought the A Team turn the story took kind of throws the overall feel of the movie off, but I didn’t mind it that much. It is what Speilberg does best – entertain.

  51. I seem to remember Oliver Stone hating the movie, because of how illogical the whole plan to hold off the Germans at the town was, i.e. fighting armored tanks without armor or something to that effect. Let me google and see if I can find that bitching.

  52. First off, VERN, did you know that at OLD CHICAGO Restaurants your website is blocked, being labeled as “Adult Content”? I bet this is because the top of your page says, “Then FUCK you, Jack.” Just thought you’d like to know. Aintitcool.com is fine, by comparison. So is WIkipedia and Google.

    William Goldman (MISERY, THE PRINCESS PRIDE) wrote a great review of this movie. He didn’t like it. Specifically he mocked Spielberg for “discovering irony”, thought that the wrong person was in the graveyard at the end (he thought it should have been the Ed Burns character) and in general criticized the way the story was structured.

    Aside from the wonderful opening and well-staged finale, I don’t like SAVING PRIVATE RYAN. I find most of the characters to be unlikable (Hanks and Pepper being the exceptions) and I think the overall point is sappy and melodramatic.

    Hanks and Spielberg made up for it by making BAND OF BROTHERS. Had that series featured battles as good as the ones in this movie, there’d be no comparison. Either way, I’d rather watch Band of Brothers (Damien Lewis is great in it, by the way).

  53. I remember backlash of the bullshit tabloid kind over SPR (and later to a lesser extent about BoB) in the UK due to it not showing the British. I wouldn’t say that was the prevalent feeling and I certainly never met many serious minded people in the years after who had much to say in that direction. It’s definitely far, far from anything like U571 in terms of how it is thought of.

  54. Any love for COME & SEE around here. There’s a war film that will knock you on your ass, only for you to find out that you don’t have an ass because it just got blown off.

    You’ll get knocked down without even an ass to fall on, is what I’m saying.

  55. War movies will almost always be bogged down by the fact that it’s the winning part that writes the history books. As someone said earlier, WWII was a just war. But 70 years later it would be ignorant and stupid of us to deny that “we” won because we bombed the hell out of the German and Japanese civilian population. In the end “we” behaved worse than them.

    Sure Jam, Come and See is perhaps the most important war movie of all time. In it’s own gruesome way it manages to give us some insight into what a nightmare the Russian population went through during the war. 26 million casualties and 620 whole towns completely destroyed. Along with Der Untergang it’s a must-see!

  56. “Any love for COME & SEE around here?” was what I meant to say (formed as a question). Stupid phone.

    But yeah, COME & SEE. It shot for nine months and the 14 year old lead went back to school with grey hair. Sometimes live ammunition was fired just over the actors’ heads. Elem Klimov never directed another movie; “I lost interest in making films … Everything that was possible I felt I had already done.”

    I read somewhere that Spielberg screened COME & SEE for his cast and crew before both SCHINDLER’S LIST and SAVING PRIVATE RYAN, but I don’t know how true that is.

    Klimov’s wife Larisa Shepitko did a great film about Russian WW2 partisans called THE ASCENT. I would recommend it.

  57. “But 70 years later it would be ignorant and stupid of us to deny that “we” won because we bombed the hell out of the German and Japanese civilian population. In the end “we” behaved worse than them.”

    dude. rape of nanking? holocaust?

    sometimes the right guys win

  58. BR Baraka – I was thinking the same thing, that’s kind of an absurd statement

    I mean can you imagine how awful it would have been if the Nazis won?

  59. In all fairness, there is the tendency to just ignore all bad things that the good guys did, just because they won. I mean, I’m glad that the Nazis and Co got wiped out, but don’t forget that the supposedly white knights of this war also dropped lots of bombs on schools and hospitals and that way even killed one of my uncles, when he was just a few months old. It would be unfair to count, but y’know, technically the Brits killed more members of my family than the Nazis. (Not that the Nazis didn’t try. See SCHINDLER’S LIST comments for more on this.) And of course it wasn’t Hitler who nuked Hiroshima. So while I wouldn’t say that the winners of WWII were as bad as the Nazis, Japanese and Russians, it wasn’t really a morally flawless win.
    Just sayin’.

  60. Hey, please don’t twist my words around. I didn’t say that the right guys didn’t win. But up until recently people have tended to romantizise our war effort and just see things in black and white. The bombing of Dresden, the two atom bombs, the Red Army raping half of Germany…All I’m saying is that we too have a lot to be ashamed of. But that’s the tragedy of all wars. To win you have to kill the enemy before he kills you. And killing is never a good thing.

  61. Rehydrated Dehydrated Pirate Paul

    February 1st, 2012 at 9:11 am

    “Paul— I wonder sometimes if me and you are living in the same England, because everyone in my England thinks Saving Private Ryan is a great movie. They also think that Gary Oldman is a great actor and that ice cream tastes good. I don’t know what you did to be cast out into the hideous parallel dimension you seem to be living in but it must’ve been way worse than whatever landed Vern in jail.”

    “your England”? You equate England to the UK?

    You’re not by any chance a closet American, are you?

  62. Rehydrated Dehydrated Pirate Paul

    February 1st, 2012 at 9:19 am


    “Paul – Just curious: what’s the reputation of WHERE EAGLES DARE in the UK? Someone years back from over there claimed it was a popular Union-Jack porno over there. (The movie does kick ass though, so it is good porn.)”

    I have no idea. I saw it once and didn’t think that much of it. The scene in the castle where Clint, Burton and the rest have a standoff is great, but the rest of it I thought wasn’t as good. I read the book years before I saw the film and enjoyed it more than I enjoyed the film itself. I’ve always regarded it as a lesser Clint movie where it’s not bad enough to be unwatchable but not good enough to be entertaining.

    Does it have a “reputation”? Do enough people even know it exists to have one? I’ve never asked anybody about it, so I have no clue, but it’s hardly ever mentioned among my particular group of friends.

  63. I’d argue that the German people gave up any right to claim moral outrage over anything the allies did when they elected Hitler and allowed the Nazis to murder their neighbours. The allies didn’t start the war and any blame for the horrible things they had to do to end it should go to the people that did.

    WW2 was about as black and white as any war ever could be. I mean, the Nazis actually wore scary black uniforms with skulls on ’em – you’re telling me the German people didn’t know these guys were evil? They were actively trying to look as evil as possible – the fuckers were like one step away from dressing up as cenobites.

  64. Sorry Paul I was under the impression you were in England for some reason, I take it this is not the case (?).

  65. Rehydrated Dehydrated Pirate Paul

    February 1st, 2012 at 9:24 am

    And I gotta see “Private Ryan” again, see how well it holds up. I remember enjoying it when I first saw it, but that was when it first came out in the cinema. It’s been so long now that, as I said, I couldn’t give you an opinion on any of the characters or anything. It’s been the subject of so much controversy since then that I have no idea how it would’ve altered my opinions of the film itself – you can’t just let something like that wash over you.

    But yeah… I’ll try and find the time to watch that one again, see what I think of it now all these years have passed.

  66. Mode7: You do know that that there was a little bit more going on, than just “Hey, let’s elect this evil Hitler to our Führer”, right? There was lots of stupidity, ignorance and antisemitism from the side of the German civilians involved, but after all he was a dictator, who no just forced himself into leadership, but also many of his idea onto the public.

    Also don’t tell my mother that she is not allowed to complain when the soldiers, who were supposed to free her family, decided to rather drop a bomb on her few months old brother.

  67. Rehydrated Dehydrated Pirate Paul

    February 1st, 2012 at 9:31 am

    Mode 7 – it’s not, I’m in Wales. I haven’t been to England for about six months. And we all have our own circles of friends, etc, and one person’s opinion tends to influence the others. (Unfortunately my particular circle happens to love “Transformers: The Movie” and “Bad Boys 2”, so I think it’s fair to say we don’t agree on everything.) Things we do agree on include: Gary Oldman in “Leon” (again, I have never met anybody outside of this forum who thinks he did anything but spoil that movie), “U-571” (although for different reasons: some think it’s an abomination because of its raping of historical fact, I just think it’s a terrible movie on its own merits and the historical thing is just another facet to it), etc.

    I’m in the minority on “Saving Private Ryan” because I liked it but apparently nobody else did. Not sure how I should feel about the positive reviews here, but then I’m not attaching my ego to a movie I haven’t seen for over fifteen years (or however long it’s been).

  68. Mode 7, by that logic we should’n have free elections at all. There’s no way of predicting what leaders might do further down the road. Who knew that Tony Blair would become mad after a few years and that Bush junior was…well, that was quite obvious. But still!

  69. This series inspired me to buy to Spielberg joints that for whatever reason I just never bought even though I enjoyed. Like this one, SCHINDLER’S LIST and EMPIRE OF THE SUN. So props to Vern for all the good work once again cause that shit was contagious. I haven’t revisited any of those in years so it should be interesting as hell to see them again through my almost 30 eyes.

  70. *the not ‘to’

  71. I’ll second the recommendation of COME AND SEE.

  72. And throw in a recommendation for CROSS OF IRON.

  73. Also, for any poor souls who’ve never seen ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=77b6LKP7jW0

  74. Nazi’s, man I hate these guys.


  75. I remember William Goldman’s rabid critique of SPR and while he made some valid points about the script he chose to attack mostly Spielberg. Shouldn’t he have also directed some vitriol on the writer(s)? The guys who came up with the line “Earn this.” that he hated so much? I always think if he had loved the movie he would have given half the credit to the screenwriter, as he usually does, and as it really should be in most cases. He gave props to script doctor Frank Darabont for starting the movie at Omaha Beach in the first place but nothing you can write can equal the impact of actually seeing it on screen. That was Spielberg all the way.

  76. I am on record at this site as loving it and have commented on it’s use of shaky cam. Vern makes an excellent point about what became of Upham – that WOULD have been interesting to have hime as the bookend.

    I don’t even mind that it’s an American flag-waver – it’s seems true to the guys who fought so I don’t care about those other aspects.

    However (petty nark here), Ted and Tom bitching about Monty being overrated is a cheap shot as he hadn’t royally screwed up American efforts with Operation Market Garden by that point. Irks me every time as it’s easy to criticise in hindsight. They might as well bitch about Mark Clark’s rush to Rome allowing German forces to regroup in Italy.

    My bitch over.

    Still difficult to watch the Ramelle fight.

    Now to point Vern in the direction of the battery assault or Carentan in Band of Brothers. Or Pelelieu in The Pacific. Steve and Tom have worked wonders there, too.

  77. I watched the last part of the movie recently, and I was particularly struck by Davies performance while he translates the Edith Piaf song for his comrades.

    Davies really intrigues me, the first time I took note on him was when he almost singlehandedly salvaged the increasingly unwatchable Lost with his fabulously pulpy role (he nailed that idiotic “i know i’m not explaining it well but DONT YOU SEE??” look they made all the actors do the best).

    Then I went back and watched that thing Spanking the Monkey… incredible! A living breathing nightmare of a film and best Morphine soundtrack ever. It’s great that he did his first starring role about a kid who has sex with his mom and still managed to segue into a respectable career…

  78. A hot mom, mind you…

  79. I mistakenly took a date to this movie.

    Trust me when I say trying to finger bang during or even after the first 20 minutes of this is such a bad look.

    You really got to get it in during the trailers…

  80. Davies does some excellent work on Justified these days. Is it just me or are season 3 shaping up to be the best one yet? Damn, it has some fiiine action scenes!

  81. I think that Goldman was absolutely right to fault Spielberg with any content he witnessed in a Spielberg film. If the screenplay is inadequate, change it or hire somebody else to fix it. Spielberg has that power and exercises it with regularity. You can always change the line, direct them to deliver it in a way that Goldman doesn’t think sucks, hire a different actor, or let the scene hit the cutting room floor. Spielberg has way too much clout to act like he’s somehow subservient to some other factor. It’s “A Stephen Spielberg Film” AND he’s his own producer, end of story right? It is not some case of “I had to do it under studio pressure, I wasn’t satisfied with the result, please take my name off it and say Directed by Mickey Mouse instead”.

  82. I mean he didn’t film a scripted scene from Close Encounters 3 because it had nudity. You’re not about to delete a scene because it’s too sentimental now are you Mr. War of the Worlds?

  83. @Mode 7 – WWII was only declared a just war after the fact. After they had walked into Auschwitz and found what was there. Before it was a war like any other. The British didn’t fight it to stop Hitler, it was fought so Britian could maintain world dominance. The fact this was then surrendered to the US for lend lease and war aid proves how stupid Churchill was. Also had Germany not declared war on the US after Pearl Harbour, America may not have fought in Europe at all, although this is rather a moot point. They largely engaged alongside the British as a means to usurp the British position in world affairs and at this they were singularly adept. As for the German/Nazis being such bastards – well facts speak for themselves, however, over a 100,000 Germans died in the camps defying the Nazis which tends to be overlooked. As the Jews say, ‘He who saves a life, saves the world entire’, so I think the sacrifice of so many good people cleans the slate for the Germans as a whole. Also since then both the USA and the Bristish have put themselves on a par with the Nazis several times over – the Vietnam war , My lai, the Mau Mau uprising, Rwanda, East Timor, Indonesia, Iraq, Guantanamo Bay, the support of numerous oppressive regimes , anyone? The list goes on. Hasn’t Obama just passed legislation that allows the US military to arrest and hold anyone on the planet, including US citizens, without trial for an indefinite period – or am I mistaken? Start of a dictatorship?

  84. You are not mistaken. The legislation you are referring to has existed for some time, but Obama definitely refreshed it and said “Don’t worry, I will not use this insanely evil power for evil.”

    The Ring answers to Sauron alone; it has no other master!

  85. Sicga– “Also since then both the USA and the British have put themselves on a par with the Nazis several times over” was the point I decided you aren’t worth debating. What the fuck, man…

    It was a comment like that that caused me to be overly harsh in my previous post for which I apologise. I hope I didn’t offend any present-day Germans who I know from experience are some of the nicest people anyone could ever hope to meet and also perhaps the worlds finest purveyors of auto-mobiles, lager and weird pornography.

  86. I have high hopes for Come & See which I haven’t seen yet, but for now I stand by Stalingrad (1989) as the best war movie ever made. It’s everything the name implies.

  87. Sorry, that was supposed to be 1993, not 1989. No guarantees for the 1989 version.

  88. Nice Guy Eddie, you can’t really compare COME AND SEE to ordinary movies. It’s an experience you either love or hate. I love it and think it’s the best movie there is ABOUT war.

  89. Spielberg is on 60 MINUTES this Sunday, talking about LINCOLN. I’m really looking forward to seeing it, it seems everything is in place to make it a great addition to the body of work. The time spent researching, working again with Tony Kushner (scribe of what’s arguably Steven’s masterpiece, MUNICH), the awesome cast, and Daniel-Day Lewis looking the part completely.

    I love both films, but I’m leaning more and more towards THE THIN RED LINE over SPR. Things that would be universally considered pretentious or distracting from the story, are absolutely essential to it which seems easy for someone like Malick to pull off. The nature stuff was hard to grasp at first, but I get it now. It’s like George Carlin said, the planet is fine, the people are fucked. Here we have men killing each other (not to mention slowly losing their own humanity by doing it), in one of the most beautiful spots in the world.

  90. I’m intrigued by LINCOLN because of Spielberg, DDL, and Abe. If early reviews are any indication, it’ll get generally good reviews with the usual Anti-Spielberg critical contingent pissing on him again.

  91. man, I can’t believe LINCOLN is already around the corner, it seems like it was just yesterday that I was seeing Tintin and War Horse in theaters

  92. I find it funny that despite my being older than most everybody here I’ll be the first to mention the First Person Shooter perspective. One of the contributing factors to DreamWorks failure to become an independent major was all the side projects, Spielberg’s obsession with video games being one of them. The Medal of Honor series evolved from one of his ideas for DreamWorks Interactive and he shoveled several million into it before DreamWorks gaming division folded up shop and the title shifted to Electronic Arts. I guess I bring this up for as much as I love the beach battle it wasn’t such an eye-opener to me as it was an expression of Spielberg’s new-found love of gaming and the visceral nature of the first person perspective.

    I am also here to confess I haven’t seen The Thin Red Line. At least not all of it. I fell asleep a half hour in at the theater. Over the years I figured I should give it another shot and given my love of Criterion I picked up the Blu-ray on release day, had plenty of sleep beforehand, yet after firing it up I only made it an hour before lights out. Third try was the worst, dozed off after about twenty minutes. Don’t know if there’s a psychological trigger of Jesus in the tall grass but he thing is just a bore. I’m not talking relative to Saving Private Ryan or Full Metal Jacket, it’s sleep-inducing on every level.

    There’s too much white man’s guilt and revisionist history going on in these comments so I’ll leave it at that.

    No I won’t lol it’s also funny that as inspired by FPS tropes as the opening scene is the current evolution of the form in the Call of Duty series is now roundly criticized for taking the form of Michael Bay style blockbusters. How the wheel turns. Or does it? After all Spielberg produces Transformers lol

  93. Man, I wouldn’t see LINCOLN with Griff’s eyes and RRA blinking. It’s got nearly all of my red flags all wrapped up in one: biopic, prestige epic, showy Oscar-baiting lead role with lots of makeup and costumes, dudes in suits talking about Matters Of Great Importance in old timey accents, historical whitewashing, no-doubt-excessive length, Spielberg schmaltz that doesn’t incorporate drunken aliens… I’m just grateful they put all that into one movie instead of spreading it out. Basically would have ruined my fall.

    clubside: That’s how I feel about BLADE RUNNER. Seen it four times now, never made it all the way through without nodding off. I always start it off loving it and wondering what my problem was the last time, and then Harrison Ford shows up, looking like he’d rather be stacking firewood or doing a crossword puzzle or anything else besides being in this movie, and I remember. I just can’t stay awake when Deckard is onscreen. It’s like Ford is telepathically forcing me to take the nap Ridley Scott wouldn’t let him take.

  94. Mr. M god bless you. Your sentiments regarding LINCOLN reflect mine to a tee.

  95. Mr. M – you’re alot like the Burgess Meredith Penguin. WAH WAH WAAAAAAAH!

  96. Dammit, RRA, how many times do we have to tell you not to be bringing up B@man in every thread?

  97. If I remember correctly, the rule was for comic book movies. This isn’t one.

    Would you like a glass of whine? ;)

  98. I’ll admit that big costume drama prestige pictures with dudes in suits talking about Matters Of Great Importance are not my cup of tea either, but still, it’s Spielberg and DDL, it’s bound to be worth checking out

    and clubside, you are 100% right that Saving Private Ryan was a HUGE influence on the FPS genre, there was a period of several years there were there were countless WW2 shooters

    I remember those first two Medal of Honors on the Playstation too, recently I tried revisiting them on an emulator and while it was interesting nostalgia, I got bored pretty quickly because whoo boy, those games have NOT aged well

    these days though I would say most shooters take a page from either Black Hawk Down (Call of Duty and it’s imitators) or Aliens (Halo, Gears of War, about 9000 other games)

  99. oh, I just remembered that things are finally coming full circle with a true blue Aliens FPS

  100. Griff – about bloody time.

  101. yeah really, after all the ripping off it’s only fair Aliens gets it’s own game

  102. The same year we got SPR another war movie called SAVIOR came out with Dennis Quaid. Not many people saw it I don’t think cause whenever I bring it up in conversation people say they can’t picture Dennis Quaid playing Jesus. But it’s one of those movies that have had that residual effect, like Falling Down did on me, where you find yourself thinking about it years later.

    Quaid’s fantastic as a U.N. soldier fighting in the Bosnian conflict. His wife and child get killed in a terrorist attack and he goes ape-shit and walks in to a mosque and blows away a large number of Muslims. So he’s a broken man, gets kicked out of the U.N. infantry and becomes a mercenary type with the Foreign Legion, which is portrayed as being the arsehole of arsehole jobs for a soldier.

    So Quaid and his Foreign Legion partner are staking it out in the woods when his mate is killed by a Serb civilian, and again Quaid goes ape-shit, but when he drops a grenade on this Serb, he discovers it’s just a kid. So the poor guy now has the grief of losing his family, his job, murdering Muslims, losing his partner, AND the guilt of killing a kid all weighing on his soul. This guy needs a SAVIOR. So he high-tails it out of the woods and hits the war-torn roads and cities of Bosnia. He meets a Bosnian(or Serb, I cant remember whos on what side) woman who is about 8 months pregnant after being raped by enemy soldiers. Her father and brother attempt to kill her, she gets the shit kicked out of her by another soldier, and she just wants to die anyway because everything is fucked. So Quaid makes it his mission to take her and her unborn(and now probly seriously mentally traumatised after being bashed)child to safety.

    There’s no big battles in SAVIOR like SPR, it’s more about this guy and his pain and guilt, and his surrogate wife and child getting from one fucked up situation to another. And there are some really evil motherfuckers they meet along the way. Human nature at it’s absolute worst portrayed through ethnic cleansing and mass-genocide.

    What’s interesting about this is that it’s a role Seagal and Van Damme have played before, and if the producers weren’t treating this material deadly serious then it could have been just another DTV vehicle. But it was produced by Oliver Stone and directed by a Serb called Peter Antonijevic who ironically jumped from the dramatic intensity of this to Christian Slater and Val Kilmer DTV flick HARD CASH.

    But seriously, this a great film. I recommend.

  103. Vern, maybe your initial flag-waving suspicions weren’t so far off. Take a look at this argument that SPR and other late-90s WWII films and books laid the groundwork for the “Cult of the Soldier” that now surrounds us:

    The Good War

    How America’s infatuation with World War II has eroded our conscience.

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