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Film Reviews, Festivale movie section, a reel life
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Festivale online magazine, November, 1998
Saving Private Ryan movie review
Saving Private Ryan

The powers-that-be have declared this film MA. Better rather to recommend this film as compulsory viewing. If war is not the brightly-coloured bang-fest -- all movement and sound and adrenalin -- that computer games and adventure films teach us, but a violent, frightening, gore-filled, nightmare of death-spitting bullets and screaming men, then it should be our aim to inoculate the young against it. If the inoculation is confronting and scary and keeps the audience awake at night then so be it. We shouldn't be afraid to get a little sick to prevent full-on illness.

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This is easily Spielberg's best film, executed by a master craftsman and performed by working actors. From the opening sequence on the D-Day beaches, Spielberg walks a fine line humanising the characters in an environment that conspires to de-humanise them. Unlike Amistad, where Spielberg rubbed our noses in desperate symbolism weakening his message, Saving Private Ryan is filmed at the right distance. spielberg photographs the scenes objectively, letting us experience the fear of death without pushing himself into our consciousness.
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Tom Hanks in Saving Private Ryan
The extraordinary attention to detail in this film brings to the screen one of the most truthful depictions of war ever seen. We are not shown matinee-idol perfection with good and evil clearly divided. Instead we see men whose every breath is grey.

Each man is good and evil, each one interprets the war through his own conscience (or lack of it), and through this we learn that war is not just an external hell that threatens life and limb, but also an experience that puts survival and honour at odds, and where tiredness conquers the best intentions. Veterans who have seen this film have come away with new tools for processing their memories, and those who have not seen war have a better idea of just how unnecessary it is.

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Catharsis is something that the best films give to the audience, the opportunity to experience the story with the actors, to be part of something that we may never otherwise know, and to leave with a sense of having been (emotionally) there. Going to a cinema for about three hours isn't like living in the stench and horror and endlessness for a tour of duty, but it can give you some new insights. This is an important film, and everyone should watch it, regardless of age, creed, colour or whatever, because it's better to watch and experience war by proxy than to have your life turned to bloody rubble.

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Movie clip (That's my mission) .mov file 3717k removed as this film is no longer in initial release.

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Just the facts:

Title: Saving Private Ryan (1998)
Written by: Frank Darabont (uncredited), Scott Frank (uncredited), Robert Rodat
Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Produced by: Ian Bryce, Mark Gordon, Gary Levinsohn, Allison Lyon Segan (co-producer), Steven Spielberg  
Edited by: Michael Kahn  
Director of Photography: Janusz Kaminski  

The Players: Tom Hanks .... Captain John Miller
Tom Sizemore .... Sarge
Edward J. Burns .... Reiben
Matt Damon .... Private James Ryan
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ISSN 1328-8008
Published in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
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: Published in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia : copyright © Festivale 1998 All rights reserved
Filed: Jun-1998 : Last updated: 10-Nov-1998 : Last tested: 3-Jul-2014: Last Compiled: 3-Jul-2014
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