Saving Private Ryan- Eric and Anna

Synopsis: The film begins with the Invasion of Normandy, following Captain John Miller
(Tom Hanks). After
the battle, it comes to attention of a general in the US that three of a
woman's sons have all died in combat within the last few days. He decides that the fourth son, Private James Ryan (Matt Damon), who is currently missing-in-action, should be immediately sent home. John Miller and his 8-man squadron are given the order to find and rescue Private Ryan. The film follows the group's travel through France, eventually finding Private Ryan at a bridge in the town of Ramelle, where they try to defend the city from an invading German force.

Was the premise of the movie historically accurate?
    The premise of  "Saving Private Ryan" is based off a real military program. The policy was the War Department's Sole Survivor policy. The policy was set in place after the 5 Sullivan serving on the same ship were killed. The government felt that it was only fair to honor families that were sacrificing so many sons for war, that they be offered some comfort it more than one of them died. In the film Captain John Miller and his squad are on a mission to find Private Ryan and bring him home since his three brothers were already killed in combat. This is based on the Niland family story. Sgt. Fredrick Nilan was part of the 101st Airborne. While no squad was set out to search for him, when he returned to Carentan from a drop that was accidentally too far inland, Lieutenant Colonel Father Francis Sampson informed him of the death of his 3 brothers and sent him home.

Did the opening battle depict D-day accurately?

    Not only is the 24-minute opening D-Day scene regarded by some as the "best battle scene of all time" (Empire Magazine), it was also lauded by World War II Veterans as being one of the most accurate portrayals of the actual battle. All of of the landing crafts were modeled after the real thing, along with two actual boats from D-Day that were used in the film. Also, the cinematography created a very realistic portrayal of the battle and 1940s atmosphere through its shaky first-person style camera work and its faded and grainy 1940s-style look.

Were the costumes from the movie accurate?
    The movie used real uniforms from the war as examples. The costume designer
spent a very long time working on making sure that the costumes were true to the
time. Many people who have seen the film attest to the accuracy of the uniforms
and claim they look exactly like the real uniforms. The only complaint was that the
helmets straps were left unbuckled. This would never happen because soldiers
would be too afraid of loosing

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their helmets and being left unprotected.
Was the mission taken by Captain Miller and his men accurate?
    The squad and their journey are a classic example of the  "Hollywoodification" of war. During the journey Cpl. Timothy Upham asked many questions and talked a lot. This would not have actually happened in the war, because it could prove dangerous when moving in enemy territory. Furthermore, the squad traveled in broad daylight, which never would have been allowed. Real squads during the war traveled at night in order to go unprotected by the enemy. Also, in order to give some drama to the mission, the men argued with their captain over the necessity of their mission, historically anyone who gave their captain that much lip would have been court-martialled. 

What bias did the film show?
    The film only focused on the American effort in World War II, basically ignoring that we were fighting alongside the British in the European campaign. However, it did not idealize the soldiers and glorify the battles the way other war movies do. Also, the enemy German soldiers were shown more as real people; they were not dehumanized as the evil enemy like the are in other movies. So despite there still being a pro-American bias, Saving Private Ryan gives a more realistic and unbiased portrayal than most other war movies.

Was the final battle at Ramelle real / accurate?
    The city of Ramelle used in the movie is fictional, so this was not an actual World War II battle. However, there were many important bridges throughout France that the Allies tried to defend during the war, so the scenario at Ramelle is definitely plausible. The style of the city and all weapons and costumes used in the battle were very true to history. However, some careful viewers have noticed tactical errors made by both sides in this final battle. According to Director Steven Spielberg, some sound military tactics and strict historical accuracy were sacrificed to create better dramatic effect. So although the battle did not actually happen, it was plausible, although the actual details of the battle were made less accurate through typical “Hollywoodification.”

Were the filming locations accurate?

    The movie was filmed largely in Ireland and parts of England that were vast country sides. This is not accurate considering Omaha Beach was actually in France. In fact the movie was mainly shot in scenic landscape that was very green and picturesque, which is inaccurate considering much of the land seen by the soldiers during World War II was war torn and destroyed. None of the battles were filmed at actual war locations because the crew needed the freedom to have space and the ability to use the location without fear of harming a historical landmark.

So all-in-all, the movies gets an  A- for its historical accuracy, it followed the real happening of World War II very closely and worked to keep true to history with some very minor changes.
As a movie we give it a  C- because it was really boring and the battle scenes stretched on for almost three hours losing the viewers attention.

"Analysis of Saving Private Ryan -" Historical Consulting for Movies and the Entertainment Industry - Back In Time (Home). 29     May 2009
"Criticizing Private Ryan." Critical Hit and Moments in History TABLETOP WARGAMES SINCE 1994 | ADVANCED TOBRUK nominated for Board
     Wargame of the Year. 29 May 2009 <>.
"Saving Private Ryan (1998)." The Internet Movie Database (IMDb). 29 May 2009 <>.