Saving Private Ryan

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Saving private Ryan

How does Spielberg use the opening sequence of "Saving Private Ryan" to create an interesting cinematic experience for the audience?

"Saving Private Ryan" is an entertaining and moving motion picture set in 1944 during the 2nd World War. Stephen Spielberg who is one of the world most renowned film directors having masterminded "Star Wars," "Jurassic Park" and "Jaws", directed the film. He also has tackled controversial topics such as: the Holocaust, slavery, war, and terrorism.

In any film the first sequence is unquestionably the most important section of the entire film; as it has to be interesting as well as create an experience that the audience is interested by. Spielberg definitely had this in mind when he was working on the first sequence of "Saving Private Ryan."

Throughout this essay I will be discussing how Spielberg uses the first sequence to create an interesting cinematic experience for the audience. Spielberg exploits four main cinematic devices to generate an attention grabbing cinematic encounter for the viewers. The four main devices are: signifiers, imagery, sound and camera angles. Signifiers are also knows as symbols they are the directors way of telling the audience something without verbal communication between characters. Imagery is any literary reference to the five senses (sight, touch, smell, hearing, and taste). Essentially, imagery is any words that create a picture in your head. Using figures of speech such as similes, metaphors, personification, and assonance can create such images. Sound can be split in to two subheadings; the first being music that could be played by an orchestra. The second is deijic sound, which is sound that reflects what you would be able to hear if you were present at the event, in context, the sounds of war. Camera angles are the way the camera is positioned or moved over a set there are 8 key camera shots in every film. They are: Pan, zoom, middle shot up above, tracking, close up, from below, and long shot. However I will only be using the latter four.

Spielberg's masterpiece employs and utilises a variety of signifiers to produce a reaction from the audience. This is done without the use of dialogue or imagery, which produces an emotional response from the audience and engulfs them in this groundbreaking film.

At the commencing of the film the audience see a star spangled banner in a full screen shot making it look very important to the audience. However Spielberg creates an oxymoron by making the flag translucent and fragile; because of the flags lifelessness it signifies to the audience that something is wrong. The in imperfections in the flag suggest to the audience that American pride had been dented and damaged. A new vibrant flag would symbolise strength and power, but the aged flag portrays the wound in America's pride. The flag is covering the sun, and the sun could be interpreted as the truth in relation to what happened in the war. Over time this charade has been eroded until it no longer covers the dark secrets of the war. This has a profound effect on the audience, seeing the contradicting symbols makes them speculate on the legitimacy of what the American government has been telling them over the last half century. This put doubt in to the mind on the viewer and makes them think that this film will inform them of the truth, accurately and without motive to protect an administration from criticism. By doing this Spielberg has captured the audience's attention in the first few minuets of the film and engrossing them in the work of art.

The contrasting use of (Christian) crosses in the opening sequence is a further example of symbolism. At the military cemetery just after the viewers see the elderly private Ryan walk along the gravel path they then encounter a vast expanse of plain white crosses in a formation similar to how soldiers would stand in their regiments. This is contrasted with the black cross like...
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