Before I get to the story and characters, let's start with the basics. Saving Private Ryan is rated R because of the war/gruesome scenes ... mangled bodies, blood, people getting shot, blown up, burned to death ... I've seen quite a few war films, but this one was really intense. If you can't handle war scenes, do not watch this movie! There is also a lot swearing. Michaela recently told me about a website called VidAngel (which has Saving Private Ryan on there) where you can stream movies and take out swearing, violence, and inappropriate scenes. I got the DVD of Saving Private Ryan so I wasn't able to use VidAngel. Another word of caution ... according to Plugged In, there is one scene were the soldiers are sitting around talking about inappropriate stuff. My mom and I fast forwarded through that part, but I think you could take that out via VidAngel. Ok, I think that's all! Let's get to the story WHICH IS AMAZING.
The movie starts in present day (well, 1998) Normandy France, where an older man and his family are visiting the Normandy American Cemetery. The older man kneels before one of the crosses and starts crying as he remembers the war. Now the movie switches to the Normandy invasion of June 6th, 1944. Three out of the four Ryan brothers are killed in action, two during the Normandy invasion and one in New Guinea. At U.S. headquarters they find out that Mrs. Ryan will be receiving all three telegrams that day. They also find out that the youngest brother is still out there in that mess. So the U.S. army sends eight men to find Private Ryan and get him home. The premise of the story is actually based on a true story of four brothers who lived in my neck of the woods!
The D-Day scene was so intense, yet deeply moving when you think of the courage, devotion, and sacrifices these men made 71 years ago. Some were killed or drowned before making it to land. There was one thing I learned in a different D-Day movie that I wanted to yell to the soldiers ... make sure you unstrap your helmets! The helmets were so heavy and would fill up with water and snap your neck. Anyway, you didn't really want to know that, did you? It's really mind boggling to get a glimpse of what these men went through.
"Never was so much owed by so many to so few."
The men sent to find Private Ryan are under the command of Captain Miller. He doesn't want to be risking his life or his men's life for one soldier, (who could already be dead) but he completes his assignment with courage and loyalty.
Private Reiben: "Hey, so, Captain, what about you? I mean, you don't gripe at all?"
Captain Miller: "I don't gripe to *you*, Reiben. I'm a captain. There's a chain of command. Gripes go up, not down. Always up. You gripe to me, I gripe to my superior officer, so on, so on, and so on. I don't gripe to you. I don't gripe in front of you. You should know that as a Ranger."
Private Reiben: "I'm sorry, sir, but uh... let's say you weren't a captain, or maybe I was a major. What would you say then?"
Captain Miller: "Well, 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 my life and the lives of my men —especially you, Reiben — to ease her suffering.'"
Captain Miller: "This Ryan better be worth it. He'd better go home and cure some disease or invent a longer-lasting light bulb or something."
Then there's Sergeant Horvath ...
Sergeant Horvath: "Maybe I should go up the middle, sir."
Captain Miller: "The way you run? I don't think so."
Sergeant Horvath: "Maybe I should go up the left, sir."
Captain Miller: "Maybe you should shut up!"
Sheesh. This guy after being shot THREE times:
Captain Miller: "Mike, Are you all right?"
Sergeant Horvath: "I just got the wind knocked out of me. I'm fine!"
WHAT?! Yeah, that's what I'd say after being shot three times, too.
Private Reiben is from Brooklyn as you can see from his jacket. He doesn't see the point in the mission, and almost walks off on the men when he's had enough. But he pulls through in the end.
Private Reiben: "You want to explain the math of this to me? I mean, where's the sense in risking the lives of the eight of us to save one guy?"
Captain Miller: "Anyone wanna answer that?"
Medic Wade: "Reiben, think about the poor bastard's mother."
Private Reiben: "Hey, Doc, I got a mother, you got a mother, the sarge has got a mother. I'm willing to bet that even the Captain's got a mother. Well, maybe not the Captain, but the rest of us have got mothers."
Private Reiben: "What's the saying? If God's on our side, who the hell could be on theirs?"
Upham: "If God is for us, who could be against us?"
Private Reiben: "Yeah, what'd I say?"
Private Reiben: "Yeah well, that wouldn't have mattered none in my house. My ma, she would've come home, shook me awake, chatted me up 'til dawn. I swear that woman was never too tired to talk."
Mellish: "That was probably the only time she could get a word in."
Private Jackson is one my favorites. He's a skilled sniper, and prays before taking each shot. In the Plugged In review, they called him "mentally unbalanced" because of that. I don't think so. He was in the middle of a war, trying to protect his buddies, himself, and defend his country, so he prays for God's help. He keeps a cross around his neck, and often kisses it before shooting.
Private Jackson: "My goodness, and my fortress; my high tower, and my deliverer; my shield, and he in whom I trust."
Private Jackson:" O my God, I trust in thee: let me not be ashamed, let not my enemies triumph over me."
Also, he has a pretty good plan to just end the war and be done with it:
Private Jackson: "Sir... I have an opinion on this matter."
Captain Miller: "Well, by all means, share it with the squad."
Private Jackson: "Well, from my way of thinking, sir, this entire mission is a serious misallocation of valuable military resources."
Captain Miller: "Yeah. Go on."
Private Jackson: "Well, it seems to me, sir, that God gave me a special gift, made me a fine instrument of warfare."
Captain Miller: "Reiben, pay attention. Now, this is the way to gripe. Continue, Jackson."
Private Jackson: "Well, what I mean by that, sir, is ... if you was to put me and this here sniper rifle anywhere up to and including one mile of Adolf Hitler with a clear line of sight, sir ... pack your bags, fellas, war's over. Amen."
I was so devastated when he died. HE DIED. I should have seen it coming, but I thought he would survive the war. I turned to my mom and said, "WHAT?! NOT HIM!!!"
Yeah, I was so devastated. =(
There's Private Mellish ... he dies a gruesome death. A HORRIBLY GRUESOME DEATH.
And there's Private Caparzo. Spoiler ... he dies, too. He tried to help this little girl who's parents thought the Americans could somehow save her. Captain Miller grabbed her from Caparzo right before Caparzo was shot. =(
Captain Miller pointing at Caparzo's dead body: "THIS is why we don't pick up children!"
Medic Wade: "Only thing is, sometimes she'd come home early, and I'd pretend to be asleep."
Mellish: "Who, your mom?"
Medic Wade: "Yeah. She'd stand in the doorway looking at me... and I'd just keep my eyes shut. And I knew she just wanted to find out about my day — that she came home early ... just to talk to me. And I still wouldn't move ... I'd still pretend to just be asleep. I don't know why I did that."
BUT HE DIES, TOO.
Corporal Upham: "Tell us what to do ... tell us how to fix you."
Captain Miller: "What can we do Wade? Tell us what to do."
Medic Wade: "I could use some ... I could use a little Morphine."
Captain Miller: "Okay ... Give it to him ... Give it him!"
The eighth person in the group is Corporal Upham, the translator. He's the one who's basically like, "I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT'S GOING ON AND I JUST WANT TO GO HOME." He also provides some comic relief, which is very welcome. He's a good guy all around. There's just one part where he's crying when Mellish is being stabbed by a German soldier, and I'm like, "DO SOMETHING!" But he doesn't because he's having an emotional breakdown. I really can't blame him ... I'd probably be doing the same thing.
Corporal Upham: "Caparzo, is it?"
Private Caparzo: "Hey drop dead, Corporal!"
Corporal Upham: "Got ya."
Private Caparzo: "And another thing, every time you salute the Captain, you make him a target for the Germans. So do us a favor, don't do it. Especially when I'm standing next to him, capisce?"
Corporal Upham: "Uh, capisce."
They finally find Private James Francis Ryan with his unit where they're defending a bridge. The guys aren't that chummy with Ryan. They lost two of their comrades while looking for him, and none of them really believe in this mission anymore. Even the viewer doesn't really get a chance to like Private Ryan that much ... I was so upset over the deaths of the other guys who I just went through the war with.
Captain Miller: "Your brothers were killed in combat."
Private Ryan: "Which ... which one?"
Captain Miller: "All of them."
Captain Miller: "You got three minutes to gather your gear."
Private Ryan: "Sir, what about them? I mean ... there ... there's barely hardly enough of us ..."
Private Reiben: "Two of our guys already died trying to find you, all right?"
It's even worse when Ryan won't go back with them, saying he needs to stay with his men.
Private Ryan: "It doesn't make any sense, sir. Why? Why do I deserve to go? Why not any of these guys? They all fought just as hard as me."
Captain Miller: "Is that what they're suppose to tell your mother when they send her another folded American flag?"
Private Ryan: "Tell her that when you found me I was here and I was with the only brothers that I have left and that there was no way I was gonna desert them. I think she'll understand that. There's no way I'm leaving this bridge."
The six men left decide to stay and help defend the bridge. A horrible fight against the Germans ensues. The men do their utmost to keep Private Ryan safe. I mean, they didn't come all that way to have him shot.
Private Ryan: "Uh sir? Where am I to be during all this?"
Captain Miller: "No more than two feet away from me. And that's not negotiable."
Captain Miller: "Are you all right?"
Private Ryan: "Uhh! GET OFF OF ME!"
Private Reiben: "Yeah. I'm fine too Captain. Thanks."
Captain Miller dies toward the end of the movie (WHICH I DID NOT SEE COMING!) and his last words to Private Ryan were: "James, earn this ... earn it."
Then the movie switches back to present day Normandy. The older man (who I thought was Captain Miller at the beginning) is Private Ryan and he was kneeling by the grave of Captain Miller.
Old James Ryan: "My family is with me today. They wanted to come with me. To be honest with you, I wasn't sure how I'd feel coming back here. Every day I think about what you said to me that day on the bridge. I tried to live my life the best that I could. I hope that was enough. I hope that, at least in your eyes, I've earned what all of you have done for me."
"I laughed, I cried, it moved me, Bob." It was an excellent, heartbreaking film. Have you Saving Private Ryan? What were your thoughts on the movie?