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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 lead by Captain Miller (Tom Hanks) to find him and let him go home to his mother. After the bloodbath of a landing at Omaha Beach with the assault troops of the US invasion, Miller and his squad begin the search for Private Ryan (Matt Damon). Official channels are not much use in war torn Europe, but fate delivers Ryan to the men.

Review by Louise Keller:
Now released as a two disc set with DTS sound, with special features on a separate disc, Steven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan remains an extraordinary achievement in filmmaking, succinctly capturing emotions and colouring them in varying shades with a story about the horrors of war.

With the superb sound adding extra impact to the shocking, graphic and bloody battle scenes, there is always the feeling that you are much too close for comfort: this is 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 main attraction on the second disc is a 25 minute featurette called Into the Breach, which combines original documentary footage as well as interviews with cast and crew. The premise to rescue someone for a good reason is what attracted Spielberg to the project, but he is quick to admit that he has an obsession with World War 2, which began with his father who was a radio operator in the airforce in Burma. He heard many stories from his father, who took 16mm films when he was in India. But more than anything, the seed was planted making Spielberg want to know more. Other features include theatrical trailers, production notes and cast and crew information.

Published November 13, 2003

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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

SCRIPT: Robert Rodat

RUNNING TIME: 140 minutes

PRESENTATION: Widescreen enhanced for 16:9 TVs 1.78-1 DTS: English 5.1 Dolby Digital: English 5.1

SPECIAL FEATURES: Into the Breach: Saving Private Ryan featurette, theatrical trailer and re-release trailer; production notes and cast/crew interviews


DVD RELEASE: November 13, 2003

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