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Saving Private Ryan, ghastly?

Discussion in 'Off-topic Zone' started by vta, Nov 11, 2009.

  1. vta

    vta The Proletariat

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    An interesting article about a military historian and his take on the movie.

    Link

    (CNN) -- Some reviewers have called "Saving Private Ryan," Steven Spielberg's World War II film about D-Day and the search for a soldier, one of the greatest war movies. Military historian Antony Beevor begs to differ.

    Not only is it not the greatest war movie, it's not even the best cinematic depiction of D-Day, says Beevor, author of the newly published "D-Day: The Battle for Normandy" (Viking). He admires the famed Omaha Beach opening -- "Probably the most realistic battle sequence ever filmed," he said -- but described the rest of "Saving Private Ryan" as "ghastly."

    "It's sort of a 'Dirty Dozen' cliche of the worst form," he said.
    He has expanded on the criticism in a lecture. "Spielberg's basic story line had great potential. It shows the tension between patriotic and therefore collective loyalty, and the struggle of the individual for survival: those mutually contradictory pressures, which in many ways lie at the heart of war," Beevor observed in the talk.

    If any filmmakers wish to take on D-Day again, Beevor's book provides enough material for a dozen screenplays. Making use of first-person accounts stored in the National Archives, as well as a wealth of other material, Beevor depicts in painstaking detail not only the D-Day landings by American, British, Canadian and Free French forces, but also the subsequent battle for the whole of Normandy that proved pivotal in defeating Nazi Germany.

    Beevor says a director would do well to remember that the Allied effort to retake the continent extended well beyond that single day of June 6, 1944.
    "D-Day, although an iconic moment, was not actually the end of it. Films like 'The Longest Day' and 'Saving Private Ryan' almost give the impression that D-Day was 'it' and then the next thing people know about was the liberation of Paris," he said. "But in fact it was the fighting in Normandy which was far worse. Casualties on D-Day were far lighter than expected -- [military leaders] had expected 10,000 dead and only 3,000 died. "The real fighting and the real casualties," he added, "came in the Battle of Normandy."

    So what does Beevor prefer in the way of a Hollywood treatment of D-Day? Another project Spielberg had a hand in, "Band of Brothers."
    "On the whole I think [it] was pretty close to the truth," Beevor said of the 2001 HBO miniseries, which Spielberg and Tom Hanks executive produced. He called it "incomparably more realistic" than "Saving Private Ryan."
    "The improvement was presumably due to the fact that it was a pretty faithful adaptation of the book by Stephen Ambrose," he said.

    A major problem with "Ryan," Beevor said, is the climax of the film. "The U.S. Air Force arrives in the nick of time just like the U.S. cavalry in 1950s cowboy films. And to cap it all, the final frames are of Pvt. Ryan, standing in old age amid the rows of white crosses in a military cemetery, saluting his fallen comrades as tears run down his cheeks."

    That's Spielberg "milking our tear ducts with both hands," Beevor said.
    But then again, the historian believes Hollywood is not well cast in the role of purveyor of history. "The central problem is that historical truth and the needs of the movie and television industry remain fundamentally incompatible. Hollywood has to simplify World War II according to set formulae," Beevor said in his lecture. "Its films have to have heroes and of course baddies. There are seldom shades of gray."

    Among WWII films, Beevor praises two from 2006 directed by Clint Eastwood (and produced by Spielberg), "Flags of Our Fathers" and "Letters from Iwo Jima". "But they are the exception which proves the rule that you do not need to resort to the tricks, the false claims of truth and even the clich├ęs of the platoon movie," he said.

    And the best war movie? Beevor looks away from Hollywood for his answer: 1965's "The 317th Platoon," a French film set during that country's war in Indochina.
  2. CowboyWay

    CowboyWay If Coach would have put me in, we'd a won State

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    I'm going to step out there and open myself up to getting flamed.......but I think Speilberg is a over rated.

    I took a Steven Speilberg class in college, and I learned alot about him, his movies are all basically the same, anti hero type.

    I never thought Private Ryan was all that good anyway. I know I'm in the minority on this, but its just how I see it.

    Other than Schindlers List, which I thought was one of the finest movies ever made in the history of film, I can't say I enjoy most of Speilbergs work at all.

    Flame away.
  3. tomson75

    tomson75 Brain Dead Shill

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    I think he's making the mistake of treating the movie like a documentary rather than a film. It achieved a great sense of realism while telling a story. If it was a documentary, it would have aired on THS and not starred Tom Hanks.

    Pretty simple, really.

    Don't care what anyone thinks. SPR is one of my top 10 all time.
  4. ChldsPlay

    ChldsPlay Well-Known Member

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    I'll join you in being flamed, and probably open myself to much more than you here in a moment.

    I never thought SPR was that good either. It had a great opening sequence, and an entertaining climax, but everything in between was pretty poor storytelling IMO. Just nothing very interesting at all.

    Where I'm going to disagree with you (and seemingly all of humanity) is that I think Schindler's List is even worse. I've never felt that it was even close to a good movie. I think there is a good story to be told about Schindler, but Spierlberg's version wasn't it. I think the movie gets much more acclaim for it's subject matter (much like SPR) and even a little because it's black and white than it does for it's actual merits as a film.

    I saw the movie when it first came out and thought it was awful and just a dreadful bore. And tried to watch it several times since but could not get more than an hour into it before being bored to death. I did just watch it again a few weeks ago and made it all the way through and while I no longer think it was awful, it was definitely too long and drawn out and still no better than average at best.
  5. joseephuss

    joseephuss Well-Known Member

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    The combat scenes were incredible. I doubt any move can top the storming of the beach. It was just incredible. I don't think the rest of the movie was bad, but it was just okay. Some of the characters were a little cliche and the story was not spectacular. I thought it was overall good movie, but not the best.
  6. TheCount

    TheCount Pixel Pusher

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    Spielberg has some great movies and some not so great movie. If Schindlers List is it for you then it is, but I definitely enjoyed some of his others like Empire of the Sun, Color Purple, Jurrasic Park (I got goosebumps when they arrive on the island and you see all the dinosaurs for the first time), etc.

    He's certainly one of those guys that got to a certain level and just stayed there regardless of how his work came out, but in my opinion, George Lucas is far worse in that regard.

    I'm interested to see what he does with Old Boy actually, I don't see how he can improve on the original.
  7. vta

    vta The Proletariat

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    I generally like some Spielberg movies, but overall I never liked his attempt to direct his audiences emotions. He doesn't allow for pragmatism in his story telling and makes sure the bad guy is a real baddie, who pees with the door open and the good guy pets the dog, so there's no mistaking who's who. It's kind of patronizing. Jaws is always a good watch, and I really did like Munich.

    I saw SPR once and was basically impressed with the cinematography, but never felt the urge to re-watch, which I always do with movies I really like.
  8. jem88

    jem88 Active Member

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    I agree. Even Schindler's List had its Spielbergian flaws (notably the ending where he talks about saving more people.)
  9. Danny White

    Danny White Winter is Coming

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    My biggest beef with Saving Private Ryan (other than the horrific casting of Ted Danson) is summed up in the line that quote: "Someday we might look back on this and decide that saving Private Ryan was the one decent thing we were able to pull out of this whole godawful, ****ty mess."

    Seriously? Saving one guy is the only positive thing you can get out of the liberaton of Europe and the destruction of Hitler's Nazi empire?
  10. Hostile

    Hostile Tacos are a good investment Zone Supporter

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    I couldn't watch this movie. I saw the first 5 minutes or so and got up and left. There's such a thing as too much.
  11. ChldsPlay

    ChldsPlay Well-Known Member

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    It was actually much tamer than I was expecting going in after all the hype.
  12. Bob Sacamano

    Bob Sacamano Benched

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    I don't think that trying to make war makers think twice about making war, because of things like that, that truly took place, and still do

    is too much
  13. Duane

    Duane Active Member

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    Agreed on the combat scenes being great. Other than that the rest of the movie was pretty pedestrian in eyes.

    The Thin Red Line on the other hand was visually beautiful and deep.
  14. Hostile

    Hostile Tacos are a good investment Zone Supporter

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    Uh...what?
  15. Bob Sacamano

    Bob Sacamano Benched

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    the gore and bloodshed during that scene was trying to serve a purpose

    to show how horrible war is

    better?

    it wasn't for special effects
  16. CowboyWay

    CowboyWay If Coach would have put me in, we'd a won State

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    Wow, Really? I never heard anyone say anything negative about that movie, so I respect your honesty. I just thought it was fantastic. Absolutely riveting. I could watch it over and over and never get tired of it. I was mesmerized by it the first time I saw it, and I've seen it many times since (I actually have it saved on my tivo, and if nothing is on the tube, I'll put it on and watch a half hour of it.

    I don't know the true story of Schindler though, so maybe if I did, and knew the liberties Speilberg took, maybe I'd have a different take on it.

    I do agree with another poster who said it was a tad cheesy at the end with the "I COULDA SAVED MORE" thing.

    THE COUNT.....I forgot about The Color Purple. That was a fantastic film.
  17. Danny White

    Danny White Winter is Coming

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    hippy
  18. Hostile

    Hostile Tacos are a good investment Zone Supporter

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    Better. Too many sentence fragments for me to interpret.
  19. bbgun

    bbgun Benched

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    I got into a debate about this movie with a Euroweenie a few years back. He said it was weighed down by "mawkish sentimentality" and "American jingoism." "Do you Americans think you won the war all by yourselves?!," he ranted. I had to remind him that it wasn't a documentary.
  20. Bob Sacamano

    Bob Sacamano Benched

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    blonde!

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