Analyse the methods used to make the opening battle sequence of ‘Saving Private Ryan’ both shocking and realistic, and say how effective you find it as an introduction to the film
‘Saving Private Ryan’ was released on the 11th of September, 1998. The film was directed by the renowned Steven Spielberg and was a joint production by Paramount and Dreamworks Pictures. ‘Saving Private Ryan’, is a two hour, fifty minute war film. The film won 5 Academy Awards, including the prestigious ‘Best Director’ award, won by Spielberg. Spielberg was already a famous director by the time the movie was released, having already made the ‘Jurassic Park’ and ‘Jaws’ movies along with other distinguished films in his career.
The film is based around World War Two where the assault of Normandy had taken place. It can be remembered by its fantastic opening which depicted the Omaha Beach attack by the US on the 6th of June 1944. It followed a group of US soldiers who went behind enemy lines to retrieve a paratrooper whose brothers have been killed in action. The movies cast included Tom Hanks, who had the leading role in playing Captain Miller and numerous others. These other men included Tom Sizemore, who played Sergeant Horvath, Edward Burns as Private Reiben, Barry Pepper as Private Jackson, Adam Goldberg as Private Mellish, Jeremy Davies as Corporal Upham and Matt Damon who played Private Ryan. This is not the entire cast, just the leading actors who had a significant part in the movie.
Spielberg uses various techniques to make ‘Saving Private Ryan both more shocking and realistic. He uses very different techniques throughout the whole of the film to add realism and disbelief to the film, which made many audiences, want to watch the rest of the film.
The movie begins with patriotic music during the opening credits. The camera first zooms into an American flag billowing in the wind. By seeing the flag the audience understands that there may be a link between the music and the flag. In the opening scene, we see Private Ryan with his family in the present tense. It is ironic that his family are behind him as if he had died in the war none of them would be there today. The camera angles begin relaxed as nothing much has really happened in the film yet, but as Ryan walks over to the grave of Captain Miller, the camera pans across and upwards to show all of the grave yard and the horrific side of war which is that of mainly death . As this is happening with the cameras, the music in this part is patriotic and proud, which gives an effect that he had taken part in something very important. While in the graveyard at the beginning, there’s no dialogue at all. This is because it’s a respectful scene, and silence shows the respect. It also adds more thought to the audience and lets the thought become bigger and wider. This gives the audience time to show respect by simply looking at all of the gravestones.
During this entire scene, two diegetic sounds are used: a french horn and then violins. The French horn plays patriotic music as does the violin to show that the old man is in a cemetery in which the bodies of those who died for the country lie. Spielberg uses the music to make the cemetery and the old man seem very significant. The music is also very sombre and sad. It ties in with the fact that the man is getting very emotional himself and begins to cry. At first the french horn is very memorial like, but when the violins start playing they make a transition from memorial like music to personal, emotive music. The violins help the audience sympathise with the actor because at the same time at which the violins begin to play again and crescendo, Ryan breaks down. Also, throughout the entire first scene there is no dialogue at all. The reason for this is because silence is respectful, and Spielberg wanted the opening scene to respect those that died in the Second World War.
But there’s a transaction between the respectful silences...
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