Saving Private Ryan (1998)

Rated 15
Amazon Prime
Spoiler Free

Saving Private Ryan was released in autumn 1998, I was 14. I am now forty. 40. More than half way through my breathing allowance given my lifestyle choices. But, you know what? Saving Private Ryan has been my number one watch since I was fourteen, which was over a quarter of a century ago. Because that’s how time works.

When the landing craft dropped its bow door, savagely unleashing Saving Private Ryan’s pulverising, bloody, 40 minute D-Day landing opening sequence, I saw my best friend retreat into his seat. Shell shocked. What was hitting him shattered us both into submission with its power. I knew then that the thing I wanted most in my life was cinema; terrifying carnage and withering emotional and visual realism. The skill to make someone care so quickly and hurt so hard, and be shocked, unrivalled.

Steven Spielberg’s seminal war masterpiece is my favourite film. Its eviscerating impact when I saw it in the cinema was shuddering, crushing, exciting. I was in awe and had never had that feeling from anything before. I’m not sure I’ve been that overwhelmed, caught up in, subdued, since, either. Surround sound was new to cinemas back then, and the whole theatre turned around when a Panzer rolled up “behind” us.

Since seeing Saving Private Ryan I have always wanted to make people feel something with whatever I am writing or creating; I want to make you hurt, laugh, love or reminisce. Or simply be annoyed that you've read what I’ve written. I credit Saving Private Ryan with this. All complaints to Messer Spielberg please- his film about a troupe of soldiers sent post D-Day on a suicide mission to rescue a Private Ryan (SURPRISE) has ruled my cinematic preference and probably always will.

Saving Private Ryan has been aped because of its greatness, watering down its effect like a numbing agent. I got the good shit; fresh and new but back in the old days. Unique.

Like a drug addict, I wanted that first hit again; I’ve chased it for years with itchy eyeballs. Fortunately, now, we have the technology to level up- I own a 3D TV which converts, rather well I might add, 2D to 3D and I have a nice pair of headphones capable of adding to the sound. It was brilliant. I followed this up a few months later with a projector viewing. Told you I’m addicted.

It occurred to me as I was about to put Saving Private Ryan on in 3D that it might be distasteful. Is it distasteful? Well, Titanic was remade in 3D, so at what point is real life death unappetising in more than one dimension? Clue: never. Peter Jackson was recently much lauded for They Shall Not Grow Old, a documentary on the horrors of WW1 which was, you guessed it- in 3D!

I decided it is not distasteful, based on the above evidence and the fact that even if it was I was going to do it anyway. Also, full disclosure, I decided the latter first then created the former not to sound like a dickhead. My third viewing of Saving Private Ryan in the cinema was also the first time I got to second base. Now that is distasteful but a (filthy) special memory too.

Like the cinema studies wet dream he is, Stevie-boy likes three layers of depth to his shots in the style of Kurosawa which creates a more realistic image. In Steve's opinion. Probably. I don't read things fully. Think of it like a smarter version of the camera blocking Eastenders uses to try and make the show look less staged. Only, y’know, expensive.

Spielberg’s technique lends itself perfectly to 3D, which really added to my enjoyment of the film in that particular viewing.

There are so many stars of past and present in Saving Private Ryan, but this is some years on. A good film has future accomplished names on the undercard and Vin Diesel, Giovanni Ribisi and Paul Giamatti is a decent start and not exhaustive (Bryan Cranston, Nathan Fillion, Leland Orser and Andrew Scott all pop up). I want to talk about all of this film at length, forever.

As Saving Private Ryan rumbled on, I realised I’m completely caught up in it again. I’ve seen the film dozens of times, but its horrifying embrace welcomed me back. A powerful film still, I remember why I love it as bullets unceremoniously drop soldiers and bombs shatter on the screen. Despite knowing the characters’ fates, I remained moved. I am sad when the credits role because I know that like a serial killer, I’ll have to cool off and wait a while to kill watch it again.

Bedsit it?

Our love remains strong, as we renew our vows. This one goes all the way up to eleven. Saving Private Ryan gets a very special 11/10



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