Saving Private Ryan is simply known as the most realistic war movie ever made. If you go and ask any soldiers about war, most won’t say anything, but they may say just watch Saving Private Ryan.
The movie is set during the invasion of Normandy in World War II. The Invasion of Normandy was the assault and founding of Allied forces in Normandy, France, during Operation Overlord in 1944 during World War II. It was the largest invasion in history, as well as the largest amphibious operation ever to take place.
The invasion of Normandy is highlighted by the initial landing which was one of the bloodiest battles in history and the beginning of the invasion, The D-Day invasion at “Bloody Omaha” Beach on June 6, 1944. The total number of troops landed on D-Day was around 130,000-156,000. Roughly half of the troops were American and the other from the Commonwealth Realm from such armies as Canada, the Free French Forces, the United Kingdom, and the United States. There are mixed reports about how many people died at the end of the first day (d-day). The following are different reports found about the total deaths on D-day. 
- o The D-Day Museum in Portsmouth, England claims a total of 2,500 Allied troops died, while German forces suffered between 4,000 and 9,000 total casualties on D-Day.
- o The Heritage Foundation in the U.S. claims 4,900 U.S. dead on D-Day.
- o The U.S. Army Center of Military History cites a total casualty figure for U.S. forces at 6,036. This number combines dead and wounded in the D-Day battles.
- o John Keegan, American Historian and Author believes that 2,500 Americans died along with 3,000 British and Canadian troops on D-Day.
The invasion of Normandy battle finally concluded with the Allied forces with a decisive victory. By the end of the entire Normandy Campaign roughly two months after it started, nearly 425,000 Allied and German troops were killed, wounded, or missing. The film opens with a short scene in modern-day France that shows a man visiting a specific grave in the sea of white crosses that marks the memorial to those who died liberating the country. The scene slips back in time to June 6, 1944, The D-Day invasion at “Bloody Omaha” Beach, by zooming into the man’s face as if going into his memory itself. This is where the true brilliance of the film begins.
The Omaha invasion scene opens with the date and event and you see the blood in the water. As the boats come rushing the rough waves, you see the soldiers and their fear. The first soldier you see is Captain John Miller (Tom Hanks). The movie shows him at first just by showing is shaking, dirty hands. He can barely open the canteen he is trying to drink out of. It them zooms out to see all of the soldiers in his area. The next ting you know, 3 of the soldiers begin to vomit (true to history as many men were told to have gotten seasick that day). They know what is ahead of them. Then, Captain Miller begins to give directions once they hit the beach.
Men begin to say their prayers and kiss their crosses, as they are just about to reach their destination. Two seconds later, they hit the beach and open the doors and within a half a second, you see a bullet go through the first mans head. The camera during this whole time is from a soldier’s point of you. It makes you feel like you are truly there with them, ducking for cover. You see 15-20 men drop from gun shot wounds before the first man even makes it off the boat. Then men begin jumping off the side of the boat and the camera follows you to see the carnage underwater. Bodies are laid about and there is a bloody mess everywhere. Bullets are flying under the water and zooming past peoples faces. Men are holding to much weight on their shoulders that they can’t swim, and as they try to get their bags off they are shot. It seems like there is no end in site.
In the background you can hear men screaming from wounds and even more men screaming for more ammo. You hear the bullets hitting the metal barricades and ricocheting who knows where. It is non-stop. The men that have made it this far are hiding and looking for their spot to shoot. Bombs are flying. A man is blown literally in half from one. The waters at this point are just pools of blood and the final resting place for many.
Finally it zooms in on Hanks’s character. You see him in a daze. The music changes to reflect that. It is as if, his mind can’t process. His senses are just closing down. In front of him you see a man in fetal position crying. Another man is crying with his guts in his hands. He is screaming for his mother. Then when you think it can’t get any worse, you see three men burst into flames from a firebomb. A man in front of Hanks is walking around in search of his arm. When will it stop?
A soldier comes up to him and begins to yell, “What now sir?” Hanks can’t hear him though. It is just a face moving. Then in an instant, a bomb goes off. You begin to hear the soldier as he yells, “I said, what the hell do we do now sir?” Another soldier asks, “What’s the rallying point?” Hanks responds with the answer of simple, “Anywhere but here!”
All of that happens within the first 10 minutes of the film. It is nonstop. It is everywhere all at once. It has no specific movement. It could go any which way. The reason for this is simple though. That is what war is. You talk about plans, but that is talk. When you get there, duck and cover. Plans don’t work in war because war has no specific direction. It is you taking the shot and hoping you don’t die. Everyone is scared and don’t know where to turn next. You go to your superiors looking for answers, but they are simple, get the hell out of there. Run for your life until you get to your base. Take your shot if you have it otherwise; try not to die!
This opening sequence lasts around a half hour and is all from a soldier’s-eye view of the D-Day invasion of Normandy. It is dazzling in terms of technique but also the response it produces from the viewer. It is unquestionably the most sadistic, gruesome, visceral portrayal of war that most will ever observe in a movie. Spielberg spares the spectators nothing of the terrors of combat, using every approach possible to express the pandemonium and useless waste of war. The audience is susceptible to haunting, bloody images of bodies being cut to pieces by bullets, limbs blown off by bombs, and a multitude of other illustrations of bloodshed. Because of all of this, those that are squeamish will find the opening of Saving Private Ryan unbearable. As good as the rest of Saving Private Ryan is, and it’s absolutely exceptional, the D-Day attack on Omaha Beach is the battle that everyone will remember most clearly from the film.
Following the opening half-hour sequence, we find out the main point of the film. We find out that two of the four Ryan brothers died at D-day, while a third perished somewhere else. The mother is set to receive all three telegrams on the same day. The U.S. army chief of staff, General George C. Marshall (Harve Presnell), is moved by the heartbroken mother’s situation, and decides to send a group of soldiers into the French countryside to find and rescue the fourth son, paratrooper Private James Ryan (Matt Damon).
Captain John Miller (Hanks) is chosen to lead the team of eight men whose goal is, in Miller’s words, like finding “a needle in a stack of needles.” His handpicked team includes six men who have served with him throughout the war and one newcomer: Upham (Jeremy Davies), a French/German/English translator. Throughout their mission, some pay the ultimate price to get Ryan home.
Though some of this film is fictional, the basis of the film is true. Stories such as this one occurred. Robert Rodat actually thought of the film’s story in 1994 when he saw a monument dedicated to eight siblings killed in the American Civil War. Rodat imagined a similar sibling narrative set in World War II, especially after hearing about the real-life case of the Niland brothers. The Niland brothers were serving in the military during World War II. Of the four, two survived the war, but for a time it was believed that only one, Frederick “Fritz” Niland, had survived. After the reported deaths of his three brothers, Fritz was sent back to the United States to complete his service and later learned that his brother Edward, missing and presumed dead, was actually captive in a Japanese POW camp in Burma.
Saving Private Ryan is an amazingly realistic portrayal of the horrors of war that so many people and families have experienced. I think the actor’s performances are perfect, and the movie is not only influential and heartbreaking but also educational.
I would absolutely recommend the film and would see it as a perfect film to show a history class. In terms of history while the main basis is fictional, the film deserves a 10 out of 10, as it really was able to show audiences what war is truly like.
 Saving Private Ryan- Film
 Actors names via IMDB