The Opening Battle Sequence of Saving Private Ryan as Shocking and Realistic
'The last thing I wanted to do in this picture was use the war simply
as a springboard for action-adventure. I was looking for realism all
Saving Private Ryan, by Steven Spielberg is said to break the
traditional conventions of the war film genre. The film tries to
include the audience in the chaos of battle by using handheld cameras.
The handheld cameras show the emotions of the soldiers and were also
used to make the audience feel as though they are involved in the
battle. Steven Spielberg purposely does this because he wants the film
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Here, a long camera shot
is used to show the family but when the old man is looking for a
specific memorial, the camera angles change. The camera zooms in on
him, so that we can see his emotions clearer in a very close up shot.
It shows he is alone in his understanding of the war, although we can
see from a long shot that he has the support of his family. We can see
his eyes in a very close up shot, and can tell that he withholds many
thoughts and secrets about the war.
During this, the sound becomes non-diegetic, we hear changes to the
sea, and we hear the sounds of waves crashing as the Higgins boats
plough through the water. This is quite interesting as we are seeing
the present whilst hearing the past. The man's eyes vibrate before the
picture turns to that of the boats on the sea. The very slow editing
involved in this scene allows the viewer to absorb the atmosphere and
try to connect with the elderly mans thoughts and emotions. The
audience see a change in camera shot from a long shot of the boats as
they approach the beach, to the close up of Captain Miller's hand
shaking. This is to introduce the viewer to some of the main
When you see the soldiers in the Higgins boats heading for Omaha
beach, the first thing the audience may notice is the de-saturated
dull colours. Also, the overcast weather helps by signifying that
something unpleasant is going to happen, the fighting, and in
addition, that it will be tragic and miserable. Once the boats turn
for their soldiers to leave in order to begin fighting, the audience
immediately see the brutality of the war, in close up and medium
shots, as many of the men are killed before they leave the boat. An
over the shoulder shot is used here to show the Germans' view, so that
the audience can see their range and advantage against the Americans
on the beach and also the difficulty of the Americans mission.
When the soldiers jump into the sea and go underwater, the camera
follows and the sounds heard are the same as those heard when
submerged under water. The noise of war becomes very distorted until
the soldier rises out of the water. Here, underwater cameras are used
so that the audience feel involved. They seem to be handheld too, so
the scene seems more realistic. They also hear the sounds you would
hear underwater so this adds to the authenticity of the film's scenes.
The reason this has been done is because it would be inappropriate if
there were music played throughout, as it would take the realness out
of the scene. While underwater, the audience see a soldier being shot
while he is also submerged. The blood from his wound is the only vivid
colour shown during the battle scene as everything else is of a
de-saturated colour. This is so that the audience can appreciate the
grim mood of the soldiers.