Reviews ...

In-Your-Face Realism: "Saving Private Ryan"

... D-Day, if we remember.

by Morris Wattenberg

The American landing on Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944, was among the several U.S. and multi- nation landings in the invasion of France, then under German occupation. The tale of Omaha Beach makes a grisly movie of blood and guts, which director Steven Spielberg delivers with an in-your-face realism in "Saving Private Ryan".

The acting is persuasive, with Tom Hanks as the leader of a grim and bewildered crew of G.I.'s following their often disheartened captain. The casualties are many, and the surge forward of plan is at best sporadic as the men try to recapture the initiative. The carnage on film will take strong stomachs.

The searchers for Private Ryan encounter a two-phased war, in which every man on the hunt  becomes vital. There is special significance to their experience that points up faulty military planning which goes badly awry as they clamber up inhospitable turf. Probably episodes such as this create as many pacifists as recruiting station volunteers. The nature of this Great War can be seen in the estimated  casualties in civilian and all-service losses, 1939-1945 -- 20 million.


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