Saving Private Ryan

Ryan is the middle guy
“War educates the senses, calls into action the will, perfects the physical constitution, brings men into such swift and close collision in critical moments that man measures man.”-
A Soldier





Again this too is a name of a famous movie directed by Steven Spielberg. The name looks very odd and not many Indians would appreciate the meaning of this name. Private is a post in American army. Perhaps the lowest among all posts. I am not so sure about that. The movie is based on World War 2 where American army has one small mission to accomplish while handling Japanese and Germans on different fronts. That mission is to save private Ryan who was dropped behind enemy lines. There are no means to even confirm that he was dropped because the plane that carried him never returned.


Why a nation would find need to save life of a private when they lost hundreds of soldiers almost everyday? This Ryan had 3 more brothers who died on the same day and a clerk in defense noticed that all the three telegrams would reach his mother on the same day. Under such circumstances the mother had only hope. The last Ryan in her family. In a small meeting the Army General decides following, read what Gen. George C. Marshall has to say

I have here a very old letter, written to a Mrs. Bixby in Boston. “Dear Madam: I have been shown in the files of the War Department a statement of the Adjutant-General of Massachusetts that you are the mother of five sons who have died gloriously on the field of battle. I feel how weak and fruitless must be any words of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming. But I cannot refrain from tendering to you the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the Republic they died to save. I pray that our heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom. Yours very sincerely and respectfully, Abraham Lincoln.”

So amid chaotic affairs of war, 8 soldiers who too are 1 corporal, 4 Private, 1 sgt. and 1 Captain are assigned this job. Job to search and save Private Ryan. The movie then proceeds showing their emotional predicament, they all too have mothers, they too are private then why should they put their lives in danger to save Private Ryan? They can return saying Ryan is dead or not to be found. But they decide to stick to their orders and persue the objective which they dont find so valuable . This is one piece of dialog between the captain and his seven soldiers on the mission to search Ryan.

Capt. Miller: I don’t gripe to you. I don’t gripe in front of you. You should know that.

Pvt. Reiben: Sorry, sir, but let’s say you weren’t a Captain, or maybe I was a Major. What would you say then?

Capt. Miller: In that case, I’d say this is an excellent mission, sir, with an extremely valuable objective, sir. Worthy of my best efforts, sir. Moreover, I feel heartfelt sorrow for the mother of Private James Ryan and am willing to lay down the lives of me and my men – -especially you, Reiben – -to ease her suffering.

Whether or not they are able to save Ryan is not the only interesting thing in movie. Entire sequence of events especially the war scenes are so intruiging that one gets stuck to the screen and his chair. Speilbergs movies were always great but most of them like Jurrasik Park were interesting because of its superficial and chilling special effects, but in this movie the special effects are used to show reality. None of the war movies ever showed war with this much reality. When I say reality I do not only mean how people kill each other and how blood sheds. There is one emotional side to everything and no one has got time to flaunt it on the battle field.

The Banner

I admire Vyaas for writing a book like Mahabharat with so many characters and a story that inspired generations of billions of people. His work was divine. I would say similar thing about Speilberg as well. His movies made billions and each frame of this movie is so perfect. He has got full control over everything.

The movie opens with a old man visiting a graveyard where thousands of graves can be seen, all alike. His family though doesnt seem to be so sentimental about all this. This man. Who can barely walk keeps a fe flowers over the grave. Then follows the scene where American soldiers in Cargo Boats jumping over the costline guarded by Germans, you try to figure out who is the hero by judging them from their actions and by the time you feel you have figured out who is the hero, he is dead. You feel sorry for all those who die without even firign a bullet from their guns. What they to save themselves from the German machine gun is more chilling. While humanity is being slaughtered few Medics try to save it.

We often tend to forget that the soldiers too are human beings. They do fear death. When a bullet pierce the lung or stomach the pain that he will face is same as what you will. While watching this movie I realised that death is the only impartial thing in this world. Watching the death waiting for you too loose your hope is the worst experience one can ever get. Read this

Capt. Miller: [After the fight to take the radio nest has left Medic Wade dead] Get your gear. Let’s go.

[Reiben doesn’t move]

Sgt. Horvath: You heard him, gear up. Your captain just gave you an order.

Pvt. Reiben: Yeah, like the one he gave to take this machine gun. That was a real doosey, wasn’t it?

Sgt. Horvath: Soldier, you are way out of line!

Pvt. Reiben: Yes sir, that was one hell of a call coming to take this nest, but hell, we only lost one of our guys going for it. That’s right, I hope Mama Ryan’s real fuck’n happy knowing that Little Jimmy’s life is a little bit more important than two of our guys! But then again we haven’t found him yet have we? Have we?

More than anything else I found it as a story that tells what is meant by bravery. Bravery is not something that is done by a few special people but it is something that ordinary people must achieve to survive.

This are the words that the Staff Chief writes to Mrs. Ryan at the end of the movie

My dear Mrs Ryan: It’s with the most profound sense of joy that I write to inform you your son, Private James Ryan, is well and, at this very moment, on his way home from European battlefields. Reports from the front indicate James did his duty in combat with great courage and steadfast dedication, even after he was informed of the tragic loss your family has suffered in this great campaign to rid the world of tyranny and oppression. I take great pleasure in joining the Secretary of War, the men and women of the U.S. Army, and the citizens of a grateful nation in wishing you good health and many years of happiness with James at your side. Nothing, not even the safe return of a beloved son, can compensate you, or the thousands of other American families, who have suffered great loss in this tragic war. I might share with you some words which have sustained me through long, dark nights of peril, loss, and heartache. And I quote: “I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom.” -Abraham Lincoln. Yours very sincerely and respectfully,
George C. Marshall, General, Chief of Staff.

9 thoughts on “Saving Private Ryan

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  2. Extremely real war scenes ever captured. Steven Spielberg at his best making him the best director of all time. I feel proud and inspired while watching this movie. Tom Hanks has done a fantastic job so did the other actors sharing the dilemma between them. The first 15 minutes prologue achieved almost realism that was ever filmed by any war movie until Saving Pvt Ryan came along. Hats off to the movie especially Mr. Steven Spielberg. A must watch for everybody, no matter what the critics say.

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