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Saving Private Ryan

Saving Private Ryan

Saving Private Ryan is a 1998 American epic war film directed by Steven Spielberg and written by Robert Rodat. Set during the Invasion of Normandy in World War II, the film is notable for its graphic portrayal of war and for the intensity of its opening 27 minutes, which includes a depiction of the Omaha Beach assault during the Normandy landings. The film follows United States Army Rangers Captain John H. Miller (Tom Hanks) and his squad (Tom Sizemore, Edward Burns, Barry Pepper, Giovanni Ribisi, Vin Diesel, Adam Goldberg, and Jeremy Davies) as they search for a paratrooper, Private First Class James Francis Ryan (Matt Damon), the last surviving brother of four servicemen killed in action. The film is a co-production between DreamWorks Pictures, Paramount Pictures, Amblin Entertainment, and Mutual Film Company, with DreamWorks distributing the film in North America while Paramount released the film internationally.

In 1996, producer Mark Gordon pitched Rodat's idea, which was inspired by the Niland brothers, to Paramount, which eventually began development on the project.[2] Spielberg, who at the time was forming DreamWorks, came on board to direct the project, and Hanks joined the cast. After the cast went through training supervised by Marines veteran Dale Dye, the film's principal photography started in June 1997 and lasted two months. The film's D-Day scenes were shot in Ballinesker Beach, Curracloe Strand, Ballinesker, just east of Curracloe, County Wexford, Ireland and used members of the army reserve of the Irish Army as infantry for the D-Day landing.

Released on July 24, 1998, Saving Private Ryan received acclaim from critics and audiences for its performances, particularly Hanks, realism, cinematography, score, screenplay, and Spielberg's directing. It was also a box office success; it grossed $216.8 million domestically, making it the highest-grossing film of 1998 in the United States, and $481.8 million worldwide, making it the second-highest-grossing film of 1998 worldwide.[3] Additionally, it grossed $44 million from its release on home video in May 1999. At the 71st Academy Awards, the film was nominated for 11 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actor for Hanks and Best Original Screenplay; it went on to win five for Spielberg's second win for Best Director, Best Film Editing, Best Cinematography, Best Sound, and Best Sound Effects Editing. The film also won both the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture – Drama and the Producers Guild of America Award for Best Theatrical Motion Picture, while Spielberg won Golden Globe and Directors Guild of America Award for Best Director.

Since its release*, Saving Private Ryan* has been considered as one of the greatest films ever made and has been lauded as influential on the war film genre.[4][5][6] It is credited for renewing interest in World War II media. In 2007, the American Film Institute ranked Saving Private Ryan as the 71st-greatest American movie in AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies (10th Anniversary Edition) and in 2014, the film was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".[7]

Saving Private Ryan
Directed bySteven Spielberg
Produced by
  • Ian Bryce
  • Mark Gordon
  • Gary Levinsohn
  • Steven Spielberg
Written byRobert Rodat
Music byJohn Williams
CinematographyJanusz Kamiński
Edited byMichael Kahn
Distributed by
  • DreamWorks Distribution (North America)
  • Paramount Pictures (International)
Release date
  • July 24, 1998 (1998-07-24)
Running time
169 minutes
CountryUnited States
  • English
  • German
Budget$70 million[1]
Box office$482.3 million[1]


An elderly veteran visits the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial with his family. At a tombstone, he falls to his knees with emotion. The scene then shifts to the morning of June 6, 1944, as American soldiers land on Omaha Beach as part of the Normandy Invasion. They suffer heavy losses in assaulting fortified German defensive positions. Captain John H. Miller of the 2nd Ranger Battalion leads a breakout from the beach. Elsewhere on the beach, a dead soldier lies face-down in the bloody surf; his pack is stenciled Ryan, S.

In Washington, D.C., at the U.S. War Department, General George Marshall learns that three of the four sons of the Ryan family were killed in action and that the fourth son, James, is with the 101st Airborne Division somewhere in Normandy. After reading Abraham Lincoln's Bixby letter aloud, Marshall orders Ryan brought home.

Three days after D-Day, Miller receives orders to find Ryan and bring him back. He chooses seven men from his company—T/Sgt. Mike Horvath, Privates First Class Richard Reiben and Adrian Caparzo, Privates Stanley Mellish and Daniel Jackson, T/4 medic Irwin Wade—plus T/5 Timothy Upham, an interpreter from headquarters. They move out to Neuville, where they meet a squad of the 101st engaged against the enemy. Caparzo is killed by a German sniper whom Jackson then kills. They locate a Private James Ryan, only to discover he is not the right one. After the squad arrives at a rallying point, Miller learns from passing soldiers that Ryan is defending an important bridge in Ramelle.

Near Ramelle, Miller decides to neutralize a German machine gun position at a derelict radar station, despite his men's misgivings. Wade is killed in the skirmish. At Upham's urging, Miller declines to execute a surviving German soldier and sets him free. Losing confidence in Miller's leadership, Reiben declares his intention to desert, prompting a confrontation with Horvath. Miller defuses the standoff by disclosing his civilian career, about which his men had set up a betting pool. He also tells them that he does not care about Ryan, but he only took the mission with hopes that it will allow him and his men a chance to return home. Miller openly wonders how much the war has changed him and tells Reiben for every man he kills, the farther away from home he feels; Reiben is moved by this revelation and decides to stay.

At Ramelle, Ryan is among a small group of paratroopers preparing to defend the key bridge against an imminent German attack. Upon arriving, Miller tells Ryan that his brothers are dead, and he was ordered to bring Ryan home. Ryan is distressed about his brothers but is unwilling to leave his unit. Miller decides to combine his unit with the paratroopers to defend the bridge. He devises a plan to ambush the enemy with various .30-caliber guns, Molotov cocktails, anti-tank mines, and improvised "sticky bombs" (satchel charges made from socks).

Elements of the 2nd SS Panzer Division arrive with two Tiger tanks and two Marder tank destroyers, all protected by German infantry. Although Miller's squad inflicts heavy casualties on the Germans, Jackson, Mellish, and Horvath, along with most of the paratroopers, are killed, and Upham is paralyzed with fear. Miller attempts to blow up the bridge but is shot and mortally wounded by the German he freed at the radar station, who had since rejoined a fighting unit. Miller crawls to retrieve the bridge detonator and fires ineffectually with his pistol at the oncoming tank. As the tank reaches the bridge, an American P-51 Mustang flies overhead and destroys the tank, after which American armored units arrive to rout the remaining Germans. Seeing the reinforcements arriving and the Germans in retreat, Upham leaps out from hiding and holds the former German prisoner and his fellow German soldiers at gunpoint before shooting the former German prisoner dead and allowing the others to flee.

Reiben and Ryan are with Miller as he utters his last words, "James... earn this. Earn it," before dying from his wounds. As Ryan stands over Miller's body, the scene fades to the elderly veteran, who is revealed to be Ryan, and the grave he is standing in front of is Miller's. Ryan asks his wife if he was worthy of such sacrifice; she replies that he is. Ryan salutes Miller's grave before departing with his family.


  • Tom Hanks as Captain John H. Miller

  • Adam Goldberg as Private Stanley Mellish

  • Edward Burns as Private Richard Reiben

  • Barry Pepper as Private Daniel Jackson

  • Matt Damon as Private James Ryan

  • Tom Sizemore as Sergeant Mike Horvath

  • Vin Diesel as Private Adrian Caparzo

  • Harrison Young as Old James Ryan

  • Giovanni Ribisi as Medic Irwin Wade

  • Jeremy Davies as Corporal Timothy Upham

  • Ted Danson as Captain Fred Hamill

  • Paul Giamatti as Sergeant William Hill

  • Dennis Farina as Lieutenant Colonel Walter Anderson

  • Joerg Stadler as Steamboat Willie

  • Max Martini as Corporal Henderson

  • Nathan Fillion as Private James F. Ryan

  • Rolf Saxon as Lieutenant Briggs

  • Leland Orser as Lieutenant DeWindt

  • Dylan Bruno as Corporal Toynbe

  • Ryan Hurst as Paratrooper Mandelsohn

  • Corey Johnson as Radioman Mackey

  • John Sharian as Corporal Loeb

  • Stéphane Cornicard as Jean

  • Harve Presnell as General George Marshall

  • Dale Dye as War Department Colonel

  • Bryan Cranston as War Department Colonel

  • Amanda Boxer as Margaret Ryan

  • Kathleen Byron as Old Mrs. Ryan



In 1994, Robert Rodat's wife gave him the bestseller D-Day: June 6, 1944: The Climactic Battle of World War II by historian Stephen Ambrose. While reading the book during an early morning walk in a small New Hampshire village, Rodat was "struck by a monument dedicated to those who had died in various wars, particularly because of the repeated last names of brothers who were killed in action". He was inspired by an actual family in Ambrose's book named the Nilands, which had lost two sons in the war and was thought to have lost a third who was "snatched" out of Normandy by the War Department.[8]

Rodat proposed the pitch to producer Mark Gordon. Gordon then pitched Rodat's idea to Paramount Pictures, whose executives liked the idea and commissioned Rodat to write the script.[9][8] Carin Sage at Creative Artists Agency read Rodat's script and made Steven Spielberg, who was one of the agency's clients, aware of it. At the same time, Spielberg, who was at the time establishing DreamWorks Pictures, picked up the script and became interested in the film.[10]

Spielberg had already demonstrated his interest in World War II themes with the films 1941, Empire of the Sun, Schindler's List, and the Indiana Jones series. Spielberg later co-produced the World War II themed television miniseries Band of Brothers and its counterpart The Pacific with Tom Hanks. When asked about this by American Cinematographer, Spielberg said, "I think that World War II is the most significant event of the last 100 years; the fate of the baby boomers and even Generation X was linked to the outcome. Beyond that, I've just always been interested in World War II. My earliest films, which I made when I was about 14 years old, were combat pictures that were set both on the ground and in the air. For years now, I've been looking for the right World War II story to shoot, and when Robert Rodat wrote Saving Private Ryan, I found it."[11]

After Spielberg signed on to direct the film, Paramount and DreamWorks, who agreed to finance and produce the film together with Amblin Entertainment and Mutual Film Company, both made a distribution deal where DreamWorks would take over the film's domestic distribution while Paramount would release the film internationally. In exchange for distribution rights for Saving Private Ryan, Paramount would retain domestic distribution rights to Deep Impact, while DreamWorks would acquire international distribution.[9]


In casting the film Spielberg sought to create a cast that "looked" the part, stating in an interview, "You know, the people in World War II actually looked different than people look today", adding to this end that he cast partly based on wanting the cast "to match the faces I saw on the newsreels".[12]

Gordon and co-producer Gary Levinsohn were interested in having Tom Hanks appear in the film as Captain Miller. Gordon recounted, "Tom was enormously excited about it and said, 'Steven and I have always wanted to work together."[13] Harrison Ford and Mel Gibson were initially considered for the role of Miller.[14]

Before filming began, several of the film's stars, including Edward Burns, Tom Sizemore, Barry Pepper, Vin Diesel, Adam Goldberg, Giovanni Ribisi, and Tom Hanks, endured ten days of "boot camp" training led by Marine veteran Dale Dye and Warriors, Inc., a California company that specializes in training actors for realistic military portrayals.[15] Matt Damon was trained separately, so the rest of the group, whose characters are supposed to feel resentment towards Damon's character, would not bond with him.[16] Spielberg had stated that his main intention in forcing the actors to go through the boot camp was not to learn the proper techniques but rather "because I wanted them to respect what it was like to be a soldier".[12] During filming, Sizemore was battling drug addiction and Spielberg required him to be drug tested every day. If he failed a test, he would be dismissed and all of his scenes would be reshot with a different actor.[17]

The film's second scene is a 20-plus-minute sequence recounting the landing on the beaches of Normandy. Spielberg chose to include this particularly violent sequence in order "to bring the audience onto the stage with me", specifically noting that he did not want the "audience to be spectators", but rather he wanted to "demand them to be participants with those kids who had never seen combat before in real life, and get to the top of Omaha Beach together".[12]


The opening and closing scenes of the film are set in the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial

The opening and closing scenes of the film are set in the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial

Spielberg wanted an almost exact replica of the Omaha Beach landscape for the movie, including sand and a bluff similar to the one where German forces were stationed and a near match was found in Ireland.

The sequence depicting the Omaha Beach landings cost US$12 million and involved up to 1,500 extras, some of whom were members of the Irish Reserve Defence Forces. Members of local reenactment groups such as the Second Battle Group were cast as extras to play German soldiers.[18] In addition, twenty to thirty actual amputees were used to portray American soldiers maimed during the landing.[19] Spielberg did not storyboard the sequence, as he wanted spontaneous reactions and for "the action to inspire me as to where to put the camera".[20]

The D-Day scenes were shot in Ballinesker Beach, Curracloe Strand, Ballinesker, just east of Curracloe, County Wexford, Ireland.[21][22][23] Hanks recalled to Roger Ebert that although he realized it was a movie, the experience still hit him hard, stating, "The first day of shooting the D-Day sequences, I was in the back of the landing craft, and that ramp went down and I saw the first 1-2-3-4 rows of guys just getting blown to bits. In my head, of course, I knew it was special effects, but I still wasn't prepared for how tactile it was."[24] Filming began June 27, 1997, and lasted for two months.[25][26][27] Some shooting was done in Normandy, for the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial in Colleville-sur-Mer and Calvados. Other scenes were filmed in England, such as a former British Aerospace factory in Hatfield, Hertfordshire, Thame Park, Oxfordshire and Wiltshire. Production was due to also take place in Seaham, County Durham, but government restrictions disallowed this.[28]

According to both Gordon and Levinsohn, the producers were hardly involved in the production as Spielberg was entrusted with full creative control of the film. Both producers were only involved in raising foreign financing and handling international distribution. Gordon, however, said that Spielberg was "inclusive and gracious and enormously solicitous in terms of the development of the screenplay".[29]

Portrayal of history

Saving Private Ryan was noted for its recreation of the Omaha Beach landings

Saving Private Ryan was noted for its recreation of the Omaha Beach landings

The historical representation of Charlie Company's actions, led by its commander, Captain Ralph E. Goranson, was well maintained in the opening sequence. The sequence and details of the events are very close to the historical record, including the sea sickness experienced by many of the soldiers as the landing craft moved toward the shoreline, significant casualties among the men as they disembarked from the boats, and difficulty linking up with adjacent units on the shore.

The distinctive "ping" of the US soldiers' M1 Garand rifles ejecting their ammunition clips is heard throughout the battle sequence. Many details of the Company's actions were depicted accurately; for instance, the correct code names for the sector Charlie Company assaulted, and adjacent sectors, were used. Included in the cinematic depiction of the landing was a follow-on mission of clearing a bunker and trench system at the top of the cliffs which was not part of the original mission objectives for Charlie Company, but which was undertaken after the assault on the beach.[30]

The landing craft used included twelve actual World War II examples, 10 LCVPs and 2 LCMs, standing in for the British LCAs that the Ranger Companies rode in to the beach during Operation Overlord.[30][31] The filmmakers used underwater cameras to better depict soldiers being hit by bullets in the water. Forty barrels of fake blood were used to simulate the effect of blood in the seawater.[19] This degree of realism was more difficult to achieve when depicting World War II German armored vehicles, as few examples survive in operating condition. The Tiger I tanks in the film were copies built on the chassis of old, but functional, Soviet T-34 tanks.[32] The two vehicles described in the film as Panzers were meant to portray Marder III tank destroyers. One was created for the film using the chassis of a Czech-built Panzer 38(t) tank[33] similar to the construction of the original Marder III; the other was a cosmetically modified Swedish SAV m/43 assault gun, which also used the 38(t) chassis.[34]

There are, however, historical inaccuracies in the film's depiction of the Normandy campaign. At the time of the mission, American forces from the two American beach areas, Utah and Omaha, had not yet linked up.[35] In reality, a Ranger team operating out of the Omaha beach area would have had to move through the heavily enemy-occupied city of Carentan, or swim or boat across the estuary linking Carentan to the channel, or transfer by boat to the Utah landing area. On the other hand, US forces moving out of Utah would have had direct and much shorter routes, relatively unencumbered by enemy positions, and were already in contact with some teams from both US airborne divisions landed in the area.[36]

The Utah beach landings, however, were relatively uncontested, with assault units landing on largely unoccupied beaches and experiencing far less action than the landings at Omaha.[37] The filmmakers chose to begin the narrative with a depiction of the more dramatic story of Omaha, despite the strategic inaccuracy of an impossible mission that could easily have been pursued from the other beach area. In addition, one of the most notable of the operational flaws is the depiction of the 2nd SS Panzer Division Das Reich as the adversary during the fictional Battle of Ramelle. The 2nd SS was not engaged in Normandy until July, and then at Caen against the British and Canadians, 100 miles east (160 km).[38] Furthermore, the Merderet River bridges were not an objective of the 101st Airborne Division but of the 82nd Airborne Division, part of Mission Boston.[39]

Much has also been said about various "tactical errors" made by both the German and American forces in the film's climactic battle. Spielberg responded by saying that in many scenes he opted to replace sound military tactics and strict historical accuracy for dramatic effect.[40] Some other technical errors were also made, such as the reversed orientation of the beach barriers and the tripod obstructions with a mine at the apex.


To achieve a tone and quality that were true to the story as well as reflected the period in which it is set, Spielberg once again collaborated with cinematographer Janusz Kamiński, saying, "Early on, we both knew that we did not want this to look like a Technicolor extravaganza about World War II, but more like color newsreel footage from the 1940s, which is very desaturated and low-tech." Kamiński had the protective coating stripped from the camera lenses, making them closer to those used in the 1940s. He explains that "without the protective coating, the light goes in and starts bouncing around, which makes it slightly more diffused and a bit softer without being out of focus." The cinematographer completed the overall effect by putting the negative through bleach bypass, a process that reduces brightness and color saturation. The shutter timing was set to 90 or 45 degrees for many of the battle sequences, as opposed to the standard of 180-degree timing. Kamiński clarifies, "In this way, we attained a certain staccato in the actors' movements and a certain crispness in the explosions, which makes them slightly more realistic."[41]


Box office

Saving Private Ryan was released in 2,463 theaters on July 24, 1998, and grossed $30.5 million on its opening weekend, opening to number one and remained at the top for four weeks until Blade topped the film in its fifth week of release.[42] The film grossed $216.5 million in the US and Canada and $265.3 million in other territories, bringing its worldwide total to $481.8 million. It was the highest-grossing US film of 1998, succeeding Armageddon, which topped the film as the highest-grossing film of 1998 worldwide.[1] Box Office Mojo estimates that the film sold over 45.74 million tickets in the United States and Canada.[43]

Critical response

Steven Spielberg (shown here in 2016) earned critical acclaim for his directing on the film and would later win his second Academy Award for Best Director.

Steven Spielberg (shown here in 2016) earned critical acclaim for his directing on the film and would later win his second Academy Award for Best Director.

Saving Private Ryan received acclaim from critics and audiences; much of the praise went for Spielberg's directing, the realistic battle scenes,[44] the actors' performances,[45] John Williams' score, the cinematography, editing, and screenplay. As of December 13, 2018, the film has a 'certified fresh' rating of 93% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 134 reviews with an average score of 8.6/10. The consensus states "Anchored by another winning performance from Hanks, Spielberg's unflinchingly realistic war film virtually redefines the genre."[46] The film also has a score of 91 out of 100 on Metacritic based on 35 critic reviews indicating "universal acclaim".[47]

Many critics associations, such as New York Film Critics Circle and Los Angeles Film Critics Association, chose Saving Private Ryan as Film of the Year.[48] Roger Ebert gave it four stars out of four and called it "a powerful experience".[45] Janet Maslin of The New York Times called it "the finest war movie of our time".[4] Gene Siskel, Ebert's co-host and critic of Chicago Tribune, said that the film "accomplishes something I had been taught was most difficult—making an action-filled anti-war film or, at least, one that doesn't in some way glorify or lie about combat".[49] On their program At the Movies, Siskel and Ebert each named the film as the fourth- and third-best film of 1998, respectively.[50][51] Writing for TIME, Richard Schickel said that was "a war film that, entirely aware of its genre's conventions, transcends them as it transcends the simplistic moralities that inform its predecessors, to take the high, morally haunting ground".[52] Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly praised the film, saying that "Spielberg has captured the hair-trigger instability of modern combat."[53] Kenneth Turan of Los Angeles Times praised the film as well, calling it "a powerful and impressive milestone in the realistic depiction of combat, Saving Private Ryan is as much an experience we live through as a film we watch on screen."[54]

The film earned some negative reviews from critics. Writing for Chicago Reader, Jonathan Rosenbaum gave the film two stars and felt that "it has a few pretty good action moments, a lot of spilled guts, a few moments of drama that don't seem phony or hollow, some fairly strained period ambience, and a bit of sentimental morphing that reminds me of Forrest Gump."[55] Andrew Sarris of Observer wrote that the film was "tediously manipulative despite its Herculean energy".[56] The film also earned some criticism for ignoring the contributions of several other countries to the D-Day landings in general and at Omaha Beach specifically.[57] The most direct example of the latter is that during the actual landing, the 2nd Rangers disembarked from British ships and were taken to Omaha Beach by Royal Navy landing craft (LCAs). The film depicts them as being United States Coast Guard-crewed craft (LCVPs and LCMs) from an American ship, the USS Thomas Jefferson (APA-30).[30][58][59] This criticism was far from universal with other critics recognizing the director's intent to make an "American" film.[60] The film was not released in Malaysia after Spielberg refused to cut the violent scenes;[61] however, the film was finally released there on DVD with an 18SG certificate in 2005.

Many World War II veterans stated that the film was the most realistic depiction of combat they had ever seen.[62] The film was so realistic that some combat veterans of D-Day and Vietnam left theaters rather than finish watching the opening scene depicting the Normandy invasion. Their visits to posttraumatic stress disorder counselors rose in number after the film's release, and many counselors advised "'more psychologically vulnerable'" veterans to avoid watching it.[63] The Department of Veterans Affairs set up a nationwide hotline for veterans who were affected by the film, and less than two weeks after the film was released it had already received over 170 calls.[64]

The film has gained criticism from some war veterans. Film director and military veteran Oliver Stone has accused the film of promoting "the worship of World War II as the good war," and has placed it alongside films such as Gladiator and Black Hawk Down that he believes were well-made, but may have inadvertently contributed to Americans' readiness for the 2003 invasion of Iraq.[65] In defense of the film's portrait of warfare, Brian De Palma commented, "The level of violence in something like Saving Private Ryan makes sense because Spielberg is trying to show something about the brutality of what happened."[66] Actor Richard Todd, who performed in The Longest Day and was among the first Allied soldiers to land in Normandy (Operation Tonga), said the film was "Rubbish. Overdone."[67] American academic Paul Fussell, who saw combat in France during World War II, objected to what he described as, "the way Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan, after an honest, harrowing, 15-minute opening visualizing details of the unbearable bloody mess at Omaha Beach, degenerated into a harmless, uncritical patriotic performance apparently designed to thrill 12-year-old boys during the summer bad-film season. Its genre was pure cowboys and Indians, with the virtuous cowboys of course victorious."[68] Historian James DiEugenio wrote that the film is actually "90 percent fiction" and that Tom Hanks knew this, with his goal being to "...commemorate World War II as the Good War and to depict the American role in it as crucial".[69]


The film was nominated for eleven Academy Awards at the 71st Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actor for Tom Hanks, and Best Original Screenplay. The film later won five including Best Cinematography, Best Sound, Best Sound Effects Editing, Best Film Editing, and Best Director for Spielberg and lost the Best Picture award to Shakespeare in Love, being one of a few that have won the Best Director award without also winning Best Picture.[70][71] The Academy's decision to not award the film with the Best Picture Oscar has resulted in much criticism in recent years, with many considering it as one of the biggest snubs in the ceremony's history.[72][73]

The film also won the Golden Globes for Best Motion Picture – Drama and Director, the BAFTA Award for Special Effects and Sound, the Directors Guild of America Award, a Grammy Award for Best Film Soundtrack, the Producers Guild of America Golden Laurel Award, and the Saturn Award for Best Action, Adventure, or Thriller Film.[48]

List of awards and nominations received by *Saving Private Ryan*
Academy AwardsBest PictureSteven Spielberg, Ian Bryce,
Mark Gordon and Gary Levinsohn
Best DirectorSteven SpielbergWon
Best Actor in a Leading RoleTom HanksNominated
Best Original ScreenplayRobert RodatNominated
Best CinematographyJanusz KamińskiWon
Best Art DirectionThomas E. Sanders and Lisa DeanNominated
Best SoundGary Rydstrom, Gary Summers,
Andy Nelson and Ron Judkins
Best Film EditingMichael KahnWon
Best Sound Effects EditingGary Rydstrom and Richard HymnsWon
Best Original Dramatic ScoreJohn WilliamsNominated
Best MakeupLois Burwell, Conor O'Sullivan
and Daniel C. Striepeke
Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror FilmsBest Thriller FilmWon
Best Special EffectsNominated
Amanda AwardsBest Foreign FilmSteven SpielbergNominated
American Cinema EditorsBest Edited Feature FilmMichael KahnWon
American Society of CinematographersOutstanding Achievement in
Cinematography in Theatrical Releases
Janusz KamińskiNominated
Art Directors GuildFeature FilmNominated
Awards of the Japanese AcademyBest Foreign FilmNominated
BAFTA AwardsBest FilmNominated
Best DirectionSteven SpielbergNominated
Best ActorTom HanksNominated
Best CinematographyJanusz KamińskiNominated
Best Production DesignNominated
Best EditingMichael KahnNominated
Best SoundWon
Best MusicJohn WilliamsNominated
Best Makeup & HairNominated
Best Special Visual EffectsWon
BMI Film Music AwardBMI Film Music AwardJohn WilliamsWon
Blockbuster Entertainment AwardFavorite ActorTom HanksWon
Favorite Supporting ActorJeremy DaviesNominated
Boston Society of Film Critics AwardsBest CinematographyWon
British Society of CinematographersBest CinematographyNominated
Broadcast Film Critics Association AwardsBest DirectorSteven SpielbergWon
Best PictureWon
Best ScoreJohn WilliamsWon
CamerimageBest CinematographyNominated
Casting Society of AmericaBest CastingWon
Chicago Film Critics Association AwardsBest PictureWon
Best ActorTom HanksNominated
Best CinematographyNominated
Best DirectorSteven SpielbergNominated
Cinema Audio SocietyBest SoundWon
Czech LionsBest Foreign FilmSteven SpielbergWon
César AwardsBest Foreign FilmSteven SpielbergNominated
Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association AwardsBest PictureWon
Best ActorTom HanksNominated
Directors Guild of AmericaOutstanding Directorial AchievementSteven SpielbergWon
Empire AwardsBest ActorTom HanksWon
Best DirectorSteven SpielbergWon
Best FilmNominated
European Film AwardScreen International AwardSteven SpielbergNominated
Film Critics Circle of Australia AwardsBest Foreign FilmNominated
Florida Film Critics Circle AwardsBest CinematographyWon
Golden GlobesBest Motion Picture – DramaWon
Best DirectorSteven SpielbergWon
Best ScreenplayRobert RodatNominated
Best ActorTom HanksNominated
Best Original ScoreJohn WilliamsNominated
Grammy AwardsBest Instrumental Composition Written
for a Motion Picture or for Television
John WilliamsWon
Huabiao Film AwardsBest Foreign FilmWon
Humanitas PrizeFeature Film CategoryNominated
Italian National Syndicate of Film JournalistsBest Foreign DirectorSteven SpielbergWon
Kansas City Film Critics Circle AwardsBest FilmWon
Best DirectorSteven SpielbergWon
Best Supporting ActorJeremy DaviesWon
Key Art AwardsBest of Show – AudiovisualWon
Las Vegas Film Critics Society AwardsBest CinematographyWon
Best DirectorSteven SpielbergWon
Best PictureWon
London Critics Circle Film AwardsFilm of the YearWon
Actor of the YearMatt DamonNominated
Actor of the YearTom HanksNominated
Director of the YearSteven SpielbergNominated
Los Angeles Film Critics Association AwardsBest CinematographyWon
Best DirectorSteven SpielbergWon
Best PictureWon
MTV Movie AwardsBest Action SequenceTom HanksNominated
Best Male PerformanceTom HanksNominated
Best MovieNominated
Motion Picture Sound EditorsBest Sound Editing – DialogueWon
Best Sound Editing – Sound EffectsWon
Best Sound Editing – MusicNominated
National Board of ReviewTop Ten FilmsWon
National Society of Film Critics AwardsBest FilmNominated
New York Film Critics Circle AwardsBest FilmWon
Online Film Critics Society AwardsBest FilmWon
Best DirectorSteven SpielbergWon
Best CinematographyWon
Best EnsembleWon
Best ActorTom HanksNominated
Best Film EditingMichael KahnWon
Best MusicJohn WilliamsNominated
PGA AwardsMotion Picture Producer of the Year AwardWon
Russian Guild of Film CriticsBest Foreign FilmSteven SpielbergWon
Satellite AwardsBest FilmNominated
Best DirectorSteven SpielbergNominated
Best Original ScreenplayRobert RodatNominated
Best Supporting Actor – Motion PictureTom SizemoreNominated
Best EditingMichael KahnWon
Best CinematographyNominated
Best Original ScoreJohn WilliamsNominated
Best Visual EffectsNominated
Saturn AwardsBest Action or Adventure FilmWon
Best Special EffectsNominated
Screen Actors Guild AwardsBest EnsembleNominated
Best ActorTom HanksNominated
Southeastern Film Critics Association AwardsBest DirectorSteven SpielbergWon
Best PictureWon
Toronto Film Critics Association AwardsBest DirectorSteven SpielbergWon
Best PictureWon
Best Male PerformanceTom HanksNominated
Writers Guild of AmericaBest Original ScreenplayRobert RodatNominated


Today, Saving Private Ryan is widely considered to be one of the greatest films ever made.[4][5][6] The film has been frequently lauded as an influential work in the war film genre and is credited with contributing to a resurgence in America's interest in World War II. Old and new films, video games, and novels about the war enjoyed renewed popularity after its release.[74] Many scenes from the film were directly translated to scenarios in Electronic Arts 2002 games Medal of Honor: Allied Assault and Medal of Honor: Frontline.[75] The film's use of desaturated colors, hand-held cameras, and tight angles has profoundly influenced subsequent films and video games.[76][77]

The American Film Institute has included Saving Private Ryan in many of its lists, ranking it as the 71st-greatest American movie in AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies (10th Anniversary Edition),[78] as well as the 45th-most thrilling film in AFI's 100 Years...100 Thrills,[79] the 10th-most inspiring in AFI's 100 Years...100 Cheers,[80] and the eighth-best epic film in "AFI's 10 Top 10".[81] In 2014, the film was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress, being deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".[7] Saving Private Ryan was voted as the greatest war film in a 2008 Channel 4 poll of the 100 greatest war films. In a readers poll for Rolling Stone, it was voted as the 18th-best film of the 1990s.[82] Empire named the film as the 39th-greatest film of all time.[83]

Saving Private Ryan has also received critical acclaim for its realistic portrayal of World War II combat. In particular, the sequence depicting the Omaha Beach landings was named the "best battle scene of all time" by Empire magazine and was ranked number one on TV Guide's list of the "50 Greatest Movie Moments".[84] Filmmaker Robert Altman wrote a letter to Spielberg stating, "Private Ryan was awesome — best I've seen."[85] Filmmaker Quentin Tarantino has expressed admiration for the film and has cited it as an influence on his 2009 film, Inglourious Basterds.[86] Prior to making Dunkirk, filmmaker Christopher Nolan consulted with Spielberg on how to portray the war scenes.[87]

Television broadcasts

On Veterans Day from 2001 to 2004, ABC aired the film uncut and with limited commercial interruption. The network airings were given a TV-MA rating, as the violent battle scenes and the profanity were left intact. The 2004 airing was marred by pre-emptions in many markets because of the language, in the backlash of Super Bowl XXXVIII's halftime show controversy.[88] However, critics and veterans' groups such as the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars assailed those stations and their owners, including Sinclair Broadcast Group (which owned fourteen ABC affiliates at the time), Hearst-Argyle Television (which owned twelve); Scripps Howard Broadcasting (which owned six); Belo (which owned four); and Cox Enterprises (which owned three) for putting profits ahead of programming and honoring those who gave their lives at wartime, saying the stations made more money running their own programming instead of being paid by the network to carry the film, especially during a sweeps period.

A total of 65 ABC affiliates—28% of the network—did not clear the available timeslot for the film, even with the offer of The Walt Disney Company, ABC's parent, to pay all fines for language to the Federal Communications Commission.[89] In the end, however, no complaints were lodged against ABC affiliates who showed Ryan, perhaps because even conservative watchdogs like the Parents Television Council supported the unedited rebroadcast of the film.[90] Additionally, some ABC affiliates in other markets that were near affected markets, such as Youngstown, Ohio, ABC affiliate WYTV (which is viewable in parts of the Columbus, Cleveland, and Pittsburgh markets, none of which aired the film), Gainesville, Florida, ABC affiliate WCJB-TV (which is viewable in parts of the Orlando and Tampa markets), and the network's affiliates in Hartford, Connecticut and Providence, Rhode Island (which are viewable in parts of the Boston and Springfield markets) still aired the film and gave those nearby markets the option of viewing the film.[91] TNT and Turner Classic Movies have also broadcast the film.[92][93]

Home video

The film was released on home video in May 1999 with a VHS release that earned over $44 million.[94] The DVD release became available in November of the same year,[95] and was one of the best-selling titles of the year, with over 1.5 million units sold.[96] The DVD was released in two separate versions: one with Dolby Digital and the other with DTS 5.1 surround sound. Besides the different 5.1 tracks, the two DVDs are identical. The film was also issued in a limited 2-disc LaserDisc in November 1999, making it one of the last feature films to be issued in this format, as LaserDiscs ceased manufacturing and distribution by year's end.[97]

In 2004, a Saving Private Ryan special-edition DVD was released to commemorate the 60th anniversary of D-Day. This two-disc edition was also included in a box set titled World War II Collection, along with two documentaries produced by Spielberg, Price For Peace (about the Pacific War) and Shooting War (about war photographers, narrated by Tom Hanks).[98] The film was released on Blu-ray Disc on April 26, 2010 in the UK and on May 4, 2010 in the US, as part of Paramount Home Video's premium Sapphire Series.[99] However, only weeks after its release, Paramount issued a recall due to audio synchronization problems. The studio issued an official statement acknowledging the problem, which they attributed to an authoring error by Technicolor that escaped the quality control process, and that they had already begun the process of replacing the defective discs.[100]

On May 8, 2018, Paramount Home Media Distribution released Saving Private Ryan on Ultra HD Blu-ray to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the release of the film.[101]

See also

  • My Boy Jack

  • List of World War II films

  • Medal of Honor

  • Sole Survivor Policy

  • Saving Private Ryan (soundtrack)

  • Band of Brothers and The Pacific, two miniseries executive produced by Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks


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