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US Army officers at HQ in the latter part of World War II are about to dispatch a letter of condolence to Mrs Ryan on the death of her son, when an alert typist connects the names of three other Ryan boys killed in action. A fourth Ryan boy is believed still alive but on the front line somewhere in Europe; the army sends an eight man squad to find him and let him go home to his mother. The task falls to Captain Miller (Tom Hanks), and seven men, most of whom are none too pleased with the order. After the bloodbath of a landing at Omaha Beach with the assault troops of the US invasion, Hanks and his squad begin the search for Private Ryan. Official channels are not much use in war torn Europe, but fate delivers Ryan (Matt Damon) to the men. However, Ryan does not jump at the chance of leaving behind his fellow soldiers at the crucial post they have held for days, securing a bridge that may be vital to the war - creating something of a dilemma for Miller.

"Saving Private Ryan comes to Australia with a strong reputation for being a Spielberg masterpiece – which it arguably is – setting up all sorts of expectations. I saw it in August 1998, soon after it opened in the US, and already there was a tidal wave of approval running before it. But the film stands up to the high expectations, partly because Spielberg has made a film that can hardly be anticipated. This applies equally to his deliberately harrowing depiction of battle and to his complex, grippingly told story of human beings taking part in that battle. There are no false heroics, no glamorous death scenes, no fake emotions; yet the very sense of war has never been brought more awesomely to within inches of our face. And the diverse effects that war has on human nature has never been captured with such aching reality. The actions of Capt Miller (Tom Hanks) and his men are not the actions and motivations of movie heroes but real people we can identify with. Spielberg has used his considerable skills as artist and craftsman to make a film which portrays the human condition in all its gory, glory, honour, strength and weakness, without insulting our intelligence or taking the easy option. Hanks and the entire cast deliver heart wrenchingly effective performances, with matching excellence from all departments (including a marvelous score), while the film’s unsaturated colours lend an appropriate melancholy to the year’s most haunting film."
Andrew L. Urban

"Intense and powerful, Steven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan is an extraordinary achievement in film making, succinctly capturing emotions and colouring them in varying shades with a story about the horrors of war. The battle scenes are shocking, graphic and bloody, with a pulsating immediacy. I got the feeling that I was much too close for comfort, and this was not a situation anyone could possibly cope with sanely and rationally. In fact, much of the film is really tough to watch. It is very confronting and vivid in its realism, yet it is totally compelling. The investment of passion, pain and joy in being involved in the film is ultimately a hugely rewarding experience, and well worth the discomfort. The filmmaker’s tools at their best – from the cinematography, editing and sound, to John Williams’ superb music, which sweeps through scenes like the tide rolling to the shore. The script is beautifully structured, and lovingly nurtures our emotions by the development of the story and gradual revealing of the characters. Tom Hanks heads a superb cast, who each deliver memorable, superb performances. Hanks manages to get the balance of Captain Miller perfectly, with subtleties in the middle of the most unsubtle of environments. He is the epitome of decency – the sort of role Gregory Peck or Jimmy Stewart might have played. The way personal information about him is withheld for much of the film, adds greatly to the rhythms of characterisation. Saving Private Ryan is a film that lingers long after the credits have rolled. Its passion, brutality, honestly, integrity and zest for life are substantial ingredients in the churn of life. The film of the year."
Louise Keller

"The director’s new sophistication and notorious technical genius accomplish what previously seemed impossible--- a responsible anti-war film awash in brutal action sequences. Spielberg understands that the camera will glamorize whatever falls in its mechanical gaze. He goes around this by brilliantly filming with overexposed stock and quivery hand-held cameras, reminiscent of documentary footage. Drained of color and romanticism, writhing soldiers drag themselves across Omaha Beach, dodging rains of zinging rocket fire. Spielberg’s exceptional sound design, overlaps and subjective viewpoints thrust us inside fractured psyches---dipping underwater in a false sense of muted peace, plummeting up again into a raging inferno where human screams loose their individual sources, fused into a searing wall of discord. This near half-hour, excruciating battle sequence breaks new visual ground for Spielberg and war movies in general. The original script by Robert Rodat (doctored by Frank Darabont and Scott Frank) is fleshed by familiar faces—most prominently, Hanks, as Capt. Miller, the teacher turned captain who embodies the heroic effort. His sweet, self-effacing persona, renowned by American audiences, seems contrary in combat, like the neighborhood boy who never came home. Ironic juxtapositions abound, as in life."
Crissa-Jean Chappell, Miami Sun Post

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Is Saving Private Ryan all it's cracked up to be? ANDREW L. URBAN draws up the debating lectern.


CAST: Tom Hanks, Tom Sizemore, Edward Burns, Barry Pepper, Adam Goldberg, Vin Diesel, Giovanni Ribisi, Jeremy Davies, Matt Damon, Ted Danson, Paul Giamatti, Dennis Farina

DIRECTOR: Steven Spielberg

PRODUCER: Steven Spielberg, Ian Bruce, Mrk Gordon Gary Levinsohn

SCRIPT: Robert Rodat


EDITOR: Michael Kahn

MUSIC: JohnWilliams

COSTUME DESIGN: Joanna Johnston

RUNNING TIME: 140 minutes


AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: November 19, 1998

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