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Saving Private Ryan

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Analyse the methods used to make the opening battle sequence of “Saving Private Ryan” both shocking and realistic and say how effective you find it as an introduction to the film.

“Saving Private Ryan” is a film set in the genre of war and directed by Steven Spielberg, it was made in September, 1998. the film is set in set in June 1944, intended to reflect the chaos and horror of Second World War. Steven Spielberg directed the film and gained 5 Oscars because of it. Other films such as: ET, Jaws, Jurassic Park and Minority Report he helped to create. Spielberg used a range of techniques to ensure his films were a success intended to:

“Hit the sets much like a newsreel cameraman following soldiers into war.”

Although some of his techniques brake some of the traditional conventions of the war film genre by using hand held camera’s during the battle scenes etc, they helped him in maybe creating one of the most shocking and realistic films of its time. By using hand held cameras in his battle scenes Spielberg makes the audience feel more involved and lets them see what many men saw.

Camera angles are used through out “Saving Private Ryan.” In the first scene many different camera angles are used. The film begins with a close up of the American flag and then moves into a low angle shot, slowly moving up to see the face of an elderly Private Ryan. The camera then moves diagonally left to show the thousands of crosses which represent the number of men who died. This makes the audience shocked to see how many deaths occurred. During the lead up to the battle, in the boats, two main camera angles were used. These were: a close up and a wide angle shot. These helped to show the realism and to show the entire picture.

Also adding to the realism were the limited dialogue as well as the sound effects used which were: seagulls, the sea, waves crashing and the engines of the boats. The music in the scene is slow and low pitched played with string instruments, the music sounds very sad and depressing .The colour in the scene is very dark and dull; very unsaturated where as at the beginning of the opening scene, the colour is very saturated. High angle shots are used to show the German perspective, it makes the audience see the hundreds of dead Americans and feel sorry for them, and it shows how easy it was for the Germans to defend the beach.

Furthermore under water angles shows the soldiers struggling to make it even on to the beach, it shows how many died in the water. This makes the audience see the horror and chaos of the war.

Likewise the sounds of bullets ricocheting off the iron hedgehogs add to the complete chaos, showing that the German gunfire is relentless.

Simarly the colour is mainly desaturated throughout the film, although there are some saturated colours such as the blood stained beaches. This makes the audience aware of how many innocent soldiers died.

The sound in the battle scene comes to an abrupt stop when the camera focus’s on Captain Miller’s face. This is to show his temporally loss of hearing as a bomb shell explodes near him. The use of camera angles in this scene is used to show the chaos and utter destruction that the German’s create.

The camera goes to an extreme close up on Captain Milers face, when he appears to be looking round in complete confusion, seeing dead men, machine gun fire every where and men scrambling behind the iron hedgehogs to avoid getting shot.

Near the end of the battle scene when they reach there check point on the field at the top of the cliff one of the Captain’s men brakes down crying when he discovers that some of his enemy’s are mere boys that had been sent to war by Hitler. This makes the audience feel shocked by the graphic pictures shown. At the very end of the scene Captain Miller is sitting at the top of the cliff with his friend looking down on the beach and seeing bodies, boats and blood. To show this a wide angle shot is used by doing this it gives an almost panoramic view of the beach.

The opening battle sequence prepares the audience for an adventure and action packed film which would keep any person glued to there seat, it uses every second of the film perfectly with its wide range of camera angles used to there full potential.


“Saving Private Ryan” is both shocking and realistic it uses its producers experience with the good set up of the film to create an Oscar winning film. In my opinion Steven Spielberg succeeded in putting chaos, shock, horror and utter excitement up on to the screen. I think that that the film is very effective, not only because he used camera angles to show different perspectives. I also believe that Spielberg did achieve his objective, by using superb special effects making the film as life like as possible.

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