30 Day Film Challenge – Day 25

Posted: July 5, 2021 in Uncategorized

11:01 by my clock. But I made it!

So, a movie that doesn’t take place in the current era, I wish I could pick Independence Day, but that probably doesn’t count. I guess in 1996 that was the current era, but what is the current era, anyway? Does a galaxy far, far away count?

Instead, I’m going to pick one of my favorite movies that I was hoping to be able to squeeze into this challenge, which I happened to be watching a little of last night, Saving Private Ryan.

I remember seeing this movie a couple times in the theater in 1998 because I liked the message, I liked the action, and I liked Steven Speilberg. It’s really so well-made that the only flaw I can see was how white Matt Damon’s teeth were, considering he just survived D-Day and probably a few months without access to a toothbrush. But it’s a movie.

I guess my real criticism revolves around Matt Damon’s casting in general. Not the man himself, because he was fine. But in all the hype for the movie, I read that he was in it, and by the time you get into the movie itself, it’s pretty obvious that he will be Private Ryan, since you have met every other character and he ain’t one of them. I wish they had kept it under wraps so the audience would be surprised when they found out who Private Ryan, but Damon was fresh off his Good Will Hunting Oscar, so I get that he would be part of the marketing plan.

So, enough of the criticisms. This is still one of my favorite movies, because the character work and performances and the general feel of the battle scenes, Thankfully, I have never been in any kind of battle, but this seems as real as it gets I remember reading at the time, when this movie unbelievably lost the Best Picture race to Shakespeare in Love, that it was too predictable, and that it was basically two huge battle scenes and not much else. First of all, anyone who went to high school and read Shakespeare in English class should have realized every key point in Shakespeare in Love. Secondly, the stuff sandwiched between the two incredible battle scenes is where the meat of the movie is. That’s where you find out that Tom Hanks’ Captain Miller, who seems like an incredible soldier who was born to be in the military, was a high school teacher back in the States (I wonder if he taught his students Shakespeare.) You find out about the bond that develops between soldiers, and that they really aren’t doing any of this because they feel bad for Private Ryan’s mother, who had already lost all her other sons in the War, but because they were in fact soldiers, and because they hoped that it would earn all of them the right to go home. However, when they do reach Ryan, and he refuses to go home with them, because he wants to stay with his fellow soldiers and see this fight through to the end, they decide to stay and fight with him. Because that’s what heroes do.

There are so many other small moments in this movie that make it so much more than two big battles. Like when the medic played by Giovanni Ribisi tells his fellow soldiers that he used to sometimes pretend he was asleep when his mother would come home from her late shift at the hospital, even though he knew she just wanted to chat to him and see how his day went, and minutes later, he is killed in a skirmish that was seemingly avoidable, and cries for his mother with his dying breath. Or the German soldier that Captain Miller lets go, after the urging of poor Corporal Upham. And it is later that same soldier who fires the fatal shot that kills Miller. And it is then Upham, who had not fired a weapon since basic training and had been rendered so scared during the final battle that he couldn’t even move, costing his fellow soldiers precious ammo, who kills that German soldier, who he had earlier implored his colleagues to set free.

I’m not even sure I’m describing all that happens in this movie very well. Just do yourself the favor of watching it, and pretending that it won Best Picture.

Thanks again, happy 4th, and come back tomorrow.

  1. […] 30 Day Film Challenge – Day 25 […]

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