Saving Private Ryan was the second-highest grossing film of 1998 and won five Oscars including a Best Director Academy Award for Steven Spielberg. The epic war drama set during D-Day and its aftermath in Normandy is best known for its opening half-hour in which the extraordinary horror and brutality of the 1944 Omaha Beach landing are portrayed.
Still, despite its critical and financial success as well as the awards it has won, almost two decades after its release it is clear the movie’s greatest legacy remains how it has been received by people who participated in the events it portrays. Here are eighteen reasons why World War II veterans admire Saving Private Ryan.
1. The main cast were put through a real-life boot camp as a method of preparation and bonding before shooting began
Tom Hanks said that the actors wouldn’t have been able to reach the right mindset for their characters if they hadn’t been through the boot camp. The same approach was later used for the successful HBO mini-series Band of Brothers.
Source: Movie Boozer
2. In order to promote the general resentment felt towards the character of Ryan, Matt Damon got to skip the boot camp
Considering how much the actors hated the cold, exhausting, and miserable experience of the camp, the approach probably worked.
3. World War II veterans have described this movie to be the most accurate film portrayal of their time in battle
As did WWII historians.
4. During the original landings, some of the soldiers drowned as soon as they got off the boats – Spielberg included this in the movie
Soldiers wore heavy equipment which weighed them down when it got wet, preventing them from making it back to the surface.
Source: Almighty Popcorn
5. Out of the 1000 extras for the D-Day scene, 750 were real soldiers from the Irish Army Reserves
The men got this gig because of their work on Braveheart, which came out three years before Saving Private Ryan.
6. Dale Dye, a retired U.S. Marine Corps officer and a decorated Vietnam War veteran, ran the boot camp and commanded the extras during the D-Day shoot
He referred to all the Hollywood stars as “turds”, to the eternal delight of many. He also had a small cameo in the movie, playing an aide to General George Marshall. Dye is the founder and head of Warriors, Inc., a technical advisory company specializing in portraying realistic military action in Hollywood films.
Source: Stars and Stripes
7. Many of the wounded soldiers on the beach were real-life amputees
This contributed to the realness of the scenes.
Source: El Cine de Hollywood
8. By the late 1990s, most WWII uniforms were no longer around so 3000 authentic uniforms had to be created
9. Spielberg managed to get his hands on two actual landing crafts used during the war
10. 1000 dummies were used as the corpses when the battle was finally over
Over 100 gallons of fake blood were used as well.
Source: My Journey Through Cinema
11. Deaths aren’t portrayed in glamorous Hollywood style
Instead, they are often abrupt and disturbing.
Source: Pure M Magazine
12. Instead of an intense musical score playing during the fighting, the audience can only hear gunshots, shouts, and explosions
It was a directing decision intended to make the viewer truly feel the terror and intensity of the moment.
Source: Tumblr | do-androidsdreamof-electricsheep
13. Spielberg didn’t storyboard the D-Day scene, which is his usual go-to method for his films
He wanted the camera to follow the action so it felt more jarring and real.
Source: Tumblr | chrisgaffey
14. Spielberg included the seasickness that would have come from not just the vessels’ motion, but also the nerve-wracking experience
The G.I.s were also fed a hefty meal before they were deployed.
15. The film negatives went through a special process that removes a lot of the color to make them look patinated
16. Upon watching the film, a D-Day vet said, “I couldn’t breathe and I shed a lot of tears.”
He continued, “It felt like I was right there again… It was so damned real.”
17. The Department of Veterans Affairs had to set up a helpline for Vets who had been upset by the film
In the first month of the movie’s release, they received more than 170 phone calls.
18. To ensure as much accuracy as possible, Steven Spielberg consulted noted historian Stephen Ambrose
His verdict on the film, “I saw on the screen what I have heard from the 3,000 veterans that I’ve interviewed over the years”