Steven Spielberg’s “Saving Private Ryan” is a tour-de-force in the way Pavarotti is to Opera. The first half an hour is undoubtedly one of the strongest set pieces in cinematic history – a visceral depiction of men at war, caught amid the carnage, confusion and utter hopelessness of combat as they charge up Omaha beach against a hail of bullets; it’s so powerful that no one who sees it, not even someone suffering from chronic amnesia, will ever be able to forget it. It just burns a part of the brain and leaves a bitter sweet impression. I couldn’t help shaking my head and repeating the words, “the waste, the waste, the waste,” again and again as I watched on.
The film is one of the first to deploy revolutionary filming techniques to heighten the experience of combat by placing the viewer in the shoes of the combatants with a point of view camera perspective: fixed 50mm period lenses, speed framing and muted colors all culminate seamlessly to heighten the fly on the wall experience. The result is nothing short of riveting!
Although this was not Tom Hanks’ highest-profile role, it was one of his best performances. His portrayal of John Miller, the middle American teacher-turned-rambo comes complete with the shakes and a tinge of melancholic tragedy. We are told during a confession that his only umbilical cord to sanity amid the senselessness of war is the image of his wife pruning rose bushes. And his greatest worry is that she will not recognize him when he returns, because, “With every man I kill, the farther away from home I feel.”
The theme revolves around a public relations mission to find Private James Ryan and take him home to his mama, who is shortly to learn that three of her sons have died. Although the producers insist that the film is based on a true story, I really wonder how this could have been accomplished before computers were invented. All we are told in the film is via a booming narrative that sounds a bit like what God would sound, moralizing on how such a travesty to human justice can never be allowed to happen, and that the State will do everything in its power to step in and do the right thing for poor Mrs Ryan. Read the rest of this entry »