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Saving Private Ryan and The Longest Day

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  • Pages: 10
  • Word count: 2255
  • Category: War

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In this essay I am going compare the two films ‘Saving Private Ryan’ and ‘The longest day’ and explain how the films represent war in the landing sequences. Both films are based on the US landings on Omaha, 6th June 1944 (D-day)

‘The longest day’ was made in 1962, produced by Darryl F. Zanuck and was shot in black and white. This film concentrates more on the events of D-day and portrays war as being less daunting and more glorious thing to do. ‘Saving Private Ryan’ was made in 1996, directed by Steven Spielberg and shot in colour. This film is the more accurate of the two films as it captures the true violence of war. The film is extremely graphic and violent which separates the two films.

‘The longest day” was shot in black and white which would give you the sense that you were back in the war era. This may have the down played peoples expectations when or if they see the movie as color TV had not been invented. ‘Saving Private Ryan’ was directed by one of the best directors of its time; Steven Spielberg so it had lot to live up to as he had filmed 2 other war films before so he would have had good experiences and ideas whilst making the other films.

The landing sequence consists of soldiers coming on to Omaha beach by boat to try and take over/kill the Germans. The soldiers have to try and make their way up towards the beach to the enemy whilst trying not to get shot or bombed on, which would have been a horrifying thing for them to injure.

As the soldiers come to land in ‘Saving Private Ryan’ there are mixed emotions among the boat, some soldiers sit trembling, anxious and vomit because they are so distressed. Other men sit with blank expressions as though they are in shock and then there are men who carry on as normal; giving out orders talking and eating. It is obvious that some of these men were better prepared for war than others. There are a lot of close-ups at this point to show the soldiers emotions and how the men are responding to going to war.

As the boat reaches the beach it hits home to some of the soldiers what they have got them self’s in for. At this point we see soldiers praying, crying and vomiting; we have shots of this at every angle this will give people a better view of the soldiers and how they are coping. The boat rocks sea spray is coming in from all sides of the boat, the doors are ordered to be open the war for the soldiers begins here.

The sky is a dull grey making everything appear dim this adds to the atmosphere of death and depression. As the soldiers deploy from the boat you can hear fire rounds bombs, shouts and cries from soldiers pleading for help, this gives you a very realistic view of what is occurring.

The landing sequence in ‘The Longest day’ is very different from ‘Saving Private Ryan’. The soldiers sit simultaneously looking forward all with the same facial expression, like they are told to show no emotion. You feel uninvolved with the film where as in ‘Saving Private Ryan’ you get a sense of what it was like to be there. The main camera angle in this scene is a side shot, which again gives you the feeling that you are not involved with the action. The noises that you can hear in this scene are mainly the boats and sea spray. As the soldiers deploy from boat ,the motors and sea spray is still heard and fire rounds are going off but not as much or as loud as the ones in ‘Saving Private Ryan’, in my opinion it sound like only one person is shooting rather than the hundreds that should be.

When the soldiers disembark from the boat in ‘Saving Private Ryan’ they are being killed with in an instance. This scene is a lot more graphic than ‘The longest day’ as you get to see more soldiers die, watch them being blown up or drown. None of the soldiers hold back, even though there is a possibility that they could be shot at.

As the soldiers emerge from the vessels in ‘The Longest Day’ the killings are a lot less graphic and quick compared to ‘Saving Private Ryan’. The soldiers look as though they are making no attempt to dodge being killed as the try to escape from the vessel, which makes things look staged.

When the soldiers die in ‘Saving Private Ryan’ it is very different from ‘The longest day’. You get to see the soldiers being shot at repeatedly, drown and also being blown up. There is lots of gun and bombs exploding which contributes to a lot of the sound. The splashing sound of the sea has gone completely, but you can hear murmurs of people under water drowning. The camera angles here change from long shots; where the Germans are firing from; and mid shots and close ups; where the soldiers are dropping into the sea or falling backwards. The effect of this is to give the audience a view of that the soldiers are up against and clearly show there emotions. The colors in this scene changes from the thick black smoke in the sky with the firing shots of red to the deep blue water with drifts of blood from the injured soldiers which again is giving the audience a better view and feel of what is happening.

In ‘The Longest day’ the soldiers die with little resistance and action. When a soldier is fired at they just drop to the ground, you don’t get to see any thing gory or upsetting. I felt that the camera holds back on the soldiers dieing as you get to see little reactions to the soldiers being shot or someone being killed. The camera shots in this scene are mostly mid shot to long distance. As the film is in black and white the main colours you get to see are thick blacks from the smoke from bombs and firing, to the light grey from the sea and landscape.

For the soldiers in ‘Saving Private Ryan’ moving up the beach was like dodging death. The soldiers are being constantly shot or having bombs thrown at them. You can hear screams and cries for help; some men are even calling out for the mothers, other soldiers are shouting, screaming giving out orders or trying to help the injured. The sound effects here are excellent; they range from the explosives and gun shots going off to someone being shell shocked; to give the viewer a feel of what it is like. You can see soldier’s dead or dieing, streams and splats of blood, men with half there insides hanging every where the camera turns. The camera angles used here are close-ups; so you can see the pain and fear on the soldier’s faces and mid-shots; where you can see what’s happened to the soldier or where they are running too. The colours in this scene are manly vivid reds form the soldier’s blood and oranges and black form the smoke and gun firing.

I think that the audience; having first seen ‘ Saving Private Ryan’ would have been most shocked by the graphical nature of the film and would be surprised at how war is portrayed in this film because this film is one of the first to show war in its true entirety.

Having watched ‘Saving Private Ryan’ the Soldiers in ‘The Longest Day ‘have it easy when it comes to moving up the beach. The soldiers seem to move up the beach with ease as they have little fire being shot at them. There is little sound from the soldier’s; apart form when people are giving orders. The firing shots that do go off are either single shots or a few at a time which gives you a less dramatic feel. The camera angle used in this scene are manly a side shots, which means that you don’t get to see the emotions or get a feel of what is happening. The colours you can see are manly spurts of black form the bombs going off and deep grays from the sky

The audience having seen ‘The longest day’ first would not be shocked in any way about the film, they may be even feel bored watching it. The audience would also get a false idea of what war and what D-day was truly like.

Brigadier General Norman Cota (Robert Mitchum) who stared in ‘The Longest Day’ is portrayed as being a laid back person. Being general means you are fairly high up in the army ranks which means that you should be in command and giving out orders; which he is not. When R.Mitchum is on the beach the camera angle is a low shot; this is to make him look bigger and look superior to the audience. As the soldiers move up the beach Mitchum sits there with a cigar in his hand and his top button undone with no helmet on; this signifies that he doesn’t really care about what is going on or what is happening to his troops, which he should be. R.Mitchum is shown like this to give out a message that war isn’t that bad or that he is so brave and fearless of war that he doesn’t have to bother.

Captain Miller (Tom hanks) who stared in ‘Saving Private Ryan’ is represented far differently form R.Mitchum. Miller commands his men like a captain should, he tells the soldiers where to go what to do example. Miller is in there with his men unlike R.Mitchum, you see miller aligning with the troops and helping them. When miller first arrives on the beach he gets shell shock which shown as everything happens in slow motion and the sounds of other soldiers and firing fades out. The colours here are dull and dim but the blood and flames still stand out.

The camera angles when miller gets shell shock are close-ups so you can see the reaction on his face, there is also side shots used when he is addressing soldiers. The camera that was used in this seen was a hand held; this was to give more of a documentary feel where as in ‘The Longest Day’ was mostly shot on a track camera.

‘The Longest Day’ was filmed not long after the war so it would have had a 1960’s audience, which means that a lot of the people would have either been in or seen through the war. Some people may have responded different to this film than others. If they were in the war it may bring back to many memories and be to sad or scared to watch the film or the film may not be anything like what actual war was like to them. War in ‘The Longest Day’ is represented as being not as bad as it might seem, well compared to ‘Saving Private Ryan’ it isn’t.

A modern day audience will definitely react differently to ‘The Longest Day’. This is because of the change attitudes towards violence have changed; films are allowed to show the graphic details and violence a lot more now than when this filmed was produced. The special affects will seem trash compared to the things what we can do today and I think that a modern day audience will find ‘The Longest Day’ boring and unentertaining compared to the films that we have out now.

I think that when anyone watches’s ‘Saving Private Ryan’; the landing sequence for the first time, will be surprised at how graphic the film is. The audience may not believe how fast killing and devastating a war can be; I think that Spielberg was trying to show people what war was truly like. I also think that Spielberg tries to involve the audience as much as he can example; when some of the soldiers drown the camera goes down with them making you feel that you are there and also Spielberg uses hand held camera a lot of the time which gives a more realistic view of the soldier.

I felt that war was represented very different in both film. In ‘The Longest Day’ I felt that you were held back on a lot of what was going on and you didn’t get to see what the soldiers reactions were towards war. In ‘Saving Private Ryan’ you saw the soldiers reactions and in a way you felt sorry for them, also you felt as though you where there with the soldiers because of the clever camera editing. I enjoyed ‘Saving Private Ryan’ more because there was much more going; action and fighting and also the obvious reason that it was in colour. I also think that ‘Saving Private Ryan captures war as best as it can. The short bit of the film I saw; the landing sequence makes you feel almost scared and tearful because of the graphical nature of the film. I didn’t think that ‘The Longest day’ as I didn’t get the same effect and so that why I preferred ‘Saving Private Ryan’ to ‘The Longest day’.

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