My 100 favourite films. Entry #21: Saving Private Ryan.

Saving Private Ryan (1998)
directed by Steven Spielberg
starring Tom Hanks, Tom Sizemore, Giovanni Ribisi, Edward Burns, Vin Diesel, Barry Pepper, Adam Goldberg, Jeremy Davies and Matt Damon
country: USA
genre: war / drama

Visuals: 10
Writing: 8
Everyday watchability: 4
Number of deaths seen on screen: 206

If the editor of this film had handed me a pair of scissors and said, "cut this film strip in any two places," I would know exactly where to cut. The end and the beginning. I'd just lop 'em right off. This movie is truly amazing, but it really piles on the schmaltz with its present-day bookend scenes. I mean the movie opens with a freaking American flag waving in the wind.

Alright, enough dissing, let's talk about the film's merits, of which there are many. First off, the movie practically set the bar for all war films to come. Spielberg and his DP (that's Director of Photgraphy) Kaminski used a desaturation technique that reduces the color saturation by 60%. And it looks good. Colours are washed out and bland, making absolutely everything seem dreary and miserable. It's a technique that's been duplicated a number of times since: in the Spielberg-produced Band of Brothers and even in the video game Medal of Honor: Frontline.

Furthermore, the movie's action scenes are "realistic." I put realistic in quotes because I don't really believe in filmic realism. I believe that movies can seem real, which is what I mean here. (Maybe I'll write a post on the myth of film realism...) When I saw this film in the theatre, i had to leave during the D-Day battle because I physically felt ill. There aren't any other films that can have that kind of effect on me.


2 comment(s).:

August 10, 2008 at 2:00 PM MPU said...

206 screen deaths? Are you s*****ing me?

August 10, 2008 at 2:28 PM Lee said...

According to the IMDb Trivia section. Not always to be trusted but the number seems totally plausible.