Ryan, Steven Spielberg's acclaimed 1998 film about small-unit action during the early days of the Normandy battle, is perhaps
one of Hollywood's best attempts to depict the horror and yet-mesmerizing spectacle of battle. It reawakened an interest in
World War II and spurred directors to make their war movies more graphically realistic. Even more important, it made many
of us sit up and realize just how much we owe to the rapidly dwindling number of World War II veterans.
Based loosely on a real life incident of the war, Saving Private Ryan
is the story of an 8-man squad of U.S. Army Rangers detailed to find Private James Ryan, a paratrooper whose three brothers
- all soldiers serving in combat units - have lost their lives. When Army Chief of Staff Gen. George C. Marshall (Harve Presnell)
is told that Mrs. Ryan is going to get all three death-notification telegrams in one day, he orders that someone has to find
the sole surviving Ryan boy in Normandy and "get him the hell out of there."
The officer assigned to lead this almost impossible task is Capt. John
Miller (Tom Hanks), who on D-Day saw action on Omaha Beach. A veteran of many battles in the Mediterranean, Miller is chosen
for his skill at undertaking tough assignments. Relieved temporarily of his company command, Miller leads six Rangers and
a company clerk/translator to find - and save Private Ryan.
In Saving Private Ryan, Spielberg carries audiences into the middle
of battle, never flinching or looking away from the worst spectacles of war. It is a look at the bond between soldiers in
a small unit, and it shows the camaraderie and genuine affection soldiers feel for one another.