American soldiers land on Omaha Beach during the D-Day landings in World War II, with multiple deaths from German fire.
An army captain (Tom Hanks) has been assigned to take his squad of seven men into France to find Private Ryan (Matt Damon), whose three brothers have been killed in combat, and get him home to his grieving mother back in the States.
To this end, they have to travel through treacherous German-held territory, until they eventually find Ryan and a small group of paratroopers trying to hold on to a key bridge which is about to be attacked by a German Panzer Group.
The film opens with some of the most devastating footage of combat ever committed to film. For twenty minutes the audience is assailed by subjective sight and sound in an attempt to recreate the feeling of being in the midst of D-Day battle. Much of this terrifying effect is due to the camerawork of Janusz Kaminski.
Having established that war is hell, the film moves into a complex examination of heroism, much of it seen through the eyes of Corporal Upham (Jeremy Davies), the frightened translator, who speaks excellent German and French, but is really a civilian – and the audience’s surrogate.
The final spectacular battle sequence is shot more objectively than the graphic opening sequence so we can see that not all war is chaos, but tactics.
Tom Hanks and the rest of the cast play down any heroics.
T/4 Medic Wade
Old Mrs Ryan