Mu Sigma Video Synthesis Round III
Saving Private Ryan - The Normandy landings
After the critically disparaged Jurassic Park sequel The Lost World, people were beginning to wonder if Steven Spielberg wasn’t lost himself, somewhere far away in a land of gloopy-eyed sentiment. Even the monochrome intensity of Schindler’s List, then his only truly adult movie, couldn’t prepare audiences for the 25-minute opening onslaught of Saving Private Ryan, a bleak tribute to the allied forces.
Inspired by the real-life case of the Niland brothers, it tells the story of a PR mission during World War II to bring back the only surviving member of the Ryan family, whose brothers have been killed in service. This is just a premise, however, which Spielberg uses to present a glimpse of the real-life horrors of the D-Day landings at Omaha beach. A battle-weary captain (Tom Hanks) is ostensibly the focus, but Spielberg goes all-out to portray the misery, fear and confusion, racking the film to get a jittery newsreel effect, plunging his camera into the muddy water as sniper bullets leave their bloody trails. We haven’t met any of the characters yet and Spielberg uses this to maximum effect: no one is safe, everyone is shockingly vulnerable, and we have little idea who is going to survive this apparently unbeatable onslaught.
Stunningly filmed by Schindler’s List cinematographer Janusz Kaminski, this horrendous scene was stripped of some 60 per cent of its colour, making a sober bookend with the closing scene of the American flag hanging shameful and ragged in the wind.