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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

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Essay Preview: 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

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Saving Private Ryan was released on September 11th 1998, and was directed by Steven Spielberg and was a joint production of both DreamWorks Pictures and Paramount. Other films that Spielberg has directed are:

Jaws (1975)

E.T (1982)

Jurassic Park (1993)

Schindler's List (1993)

Artificial Intelligence: AI (1997)

Minority Report (2002)

As well as many others.

The film is about the historic D-Day Landings of Normandy in 1944, and is shown through American soldiers' eyes and has shots from German perspective, which makes the film very realistic. Captain Miller and the other soldiers on the D-Day Landing have been told to find Private James Ryan and bring him home as his three brothers have all been killed and he is the only son remaining in the family. They all risk their own lives to save Private Ryan so he can be reunited with his distraught mother.

The cast includes:

Tom Hanks as Captain Miller.

Tom Sizemore as Sergeant Horvath.

Matt Damon as Private Ryan.

Edward Burns as Private Reiben.

The film won five Oscars in 1999, which included Best Director, and the Best Film award. Spielberg wanted the film to be realistic and be as close to the real events as possible. He said, "The last thing I wanted to do in this picture was use the war simply as a springboard for action-adventure. I was looking for realism all the time".

Saving Private Ryan breaks the conventions of a traditional war film, firstly, because it is a mainstream war film and is aimed at a mainstream audience. Usually war films appeal to people that like blood and gore, mostly older men, but this film appeals to many different people. Also a traditional war film consists of fearless stories of victory or it usually criticises or enhances the war. Saving Private Ryan is very different to this as instead of a story of victory, it is a story of human bravery and there isn't only one hero, there are many. Saving Private Ryan merely shows the truth of war and does not try to criticise or enhance it. Saving Private Ryan also breaks the traditional conventions of a war film because it isn't stereotypical like in a traditional war film, as it isn't about good versus evil it is about men versus the war; the Germans aren't really the enemy, they are just the people that the Americans are fighting.

In the film a lot of ideas have been put together to make the film realistic. Desaturated colour, not full colour, was used to give the film the realism of old newsreels and to make the audience feel as if they were really there witnessing the events that were taking place. It was also used to create the atmosphere as it would be dusty, smoky and there would be debris everywhere so the colour around the soldiers would be dimmed. Not only was the colour used in the film realistic but the battles were as well. The sound effects were exact and so were the reactions of the soldiers which shows the soldiers going into shock. This is shown several times. One man gets his arm shot off and goes round looking for it and picks it up. Another man is wounded and lying down trying to put his guts back into the open wound in his stomach. Spielberg comments about the battle sequence was: "I wanted to put chaos up on the screen. I wanted the audience to feel the same as those green recruits that were just off those Higgins boats and had never seen combat before. Ninety-five percent of them hadn't. It was complete chaos."

Handheld cameras were also used to make the film realistic, following the soldiers like a journalist at that time, reporting on what was happening. It also gives us the point of view of a soldier and exactly what one soldier was seeing. Spielberg said, "I wanted to hit the sets much like a newsreel cameraman following soldiers into war."

The opening battle sequence consists of four scenes and lasts 30 minutes in total.

The first scene is the transition from the present day to the past in which setting and mood are established and main characters introduced. It begins with a close-up of the American flag and the sound of it moving in the wind. There is also military music in the background which is sad but calm and this sets the mood of remembrance, with the clear sound of the French horn and other instruments that are usually linked with war. The shot then cuts to an elderly man walking down a path towards the graves of American soldiers that fought in World War II at Colleville-sur-Mer, Normandy, France. The shot then cuts to a long shot, which shows that he hasn't come alone as a group of people are also with him, who appear to be his family. The shot then cuts to a mid-shot of the elderly woman, his wife and the expression on her face seems to be sympathetic and shows that she is worried for her husband as for him being in Normandy is bringing back memories.

As they all carry on walking towards their destination there is a mid-shot of the elderly man as he rests against a tree, he looks up and it cuts to the American flag again, then to the French flag, which creates a link as the Americans fought in France, also there are birds singing and this creates a peaceful atmosphere. It then cuts to a close-up of the elderly man's face as he carries on walking but then cuts to a tracking shot following him to the white crosses. As he approaches the crosses it cuts to a long shot showing hundreds of white crosses in rows, this shows the amount of soldiers that had died during the war. As the elderly man approaches the grave of the soldier he had come to visit he begins to cry softly and then falls to the ground and from this we can see that the relationship between the elderly man and the dead soldier must have been great. His family run over and his son says, "Dad", in a sympathetic tone as if to ask if he was okay. It then cuts to a mid-shot of the white crosses with just the peaceful music playing then cuts back to the elderly man, the camera slowly zooms in from a medium close up to a close-up then an extreme close-up only showing his eyes.

Then there is a straight cut into a flashback of the beach with iron hedgehogs which can be linked with the white crosses as they both have arms that stick out which make them similar. Although one is white and the other is black this can also be linked, white a colour for peace,



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