Film Reviews, Short Review

Saving Private Ryan (1998)

2/4

As an act of filmmaking there is very little to fault Saving Private Ryan for. The detail, the staging, the sheer visceral nature of its battle scenes: every single element is perfectly in place here, from that famous Omaha Beach opening, to the last heaving breath in the final battle (we’ll ignore the godawful framing device used to bookend the film). However, this technical perfection is itself the problem. As so often, Spielberg finds himself concerned with details instead of a larger truth, and when he does attempt to latch onto a larger truth within the film, it is entirely incoherent or ham-fisted, delivered in big monologues that say “this is the point of the film”. These monologues have no great impact; they are just big speeches. Some say war is bad. Some say war is unnecessary. Some say war is valiant. None of them say it well, and for all its blood and guts and horror, Saving Private Ryan has absolutely nothing to say about World War II, thus rendering its visceral nature one of pure entertainment and spectacle rather than giving it a probing moral edge, the kind of edge that characterises the best war films.

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One thought on “Saving Private Ryan (1998)

  1. Pingback: The Great War changed everything | Marcus Ampe's Space

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