From blood to bullets. From bombs to bones. From tanks to rifles. During World War Two’s D-Day, the Omaha landings created some of the most horrific events known to man, even to this day. Thousands of lives were ended in an instant, on both the Allied and German sides and in the film ‘Saving Private Ryan,’ directed by Steven Spielberg, the whole sickening scene was shown in its horrific glory. The release of the film caused a lot of controversies, mainly because of the sensitive issue it covers and also because the film’s director, Spielberg, had already directed a war-based film, ‘Schindler’s List’.
I believe you need to see the film to understand it fully, but this review will hopefully tell you enough about the film to understand the horror as much as possible. During the film’s battle scene, many media devices are used to effect the audience’s emotions in some way. The most successful and effective media device, in my opinion, is the way Spielberg has added slow-motion scenes at the start of the film in the opening 24-minute battle scene. This is because there is a stark contrast from the fast-paced chaos to the slow-moving horror. The slow-motion allows the viewers to take the whole sickening scene in, which affects them in a shocking and upsetting way.
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An example of the slow-motion media device is when Captain Miller, who is played by Tom Hanks, is shown watching allied soldiers burning alive on the beaches of France during a slow-motion scene. In comparison, another media device used in the same opening battle sequence is the use of camera tricks and strange camera angles to portray things that aren’t there and add new emotions to the scene. The camera tricks were put to full use in portraying bullets flying through the air towards the allied soldiers. As the view of the battle scene was from the side, the camera would move quickly horizontally to the left, where the allied soldiers were based, which gave the effect of bullets firing in mid-air.
Also, the use of strange camera angles added an evil presence to the scene. The view behind the German machine gunners was particularly frightening, as the Germans were seen as blackened silhouettes. In the same frame, you could see ‘bullets’ (red/orange flickering lights) flying towards the allied soldiers, who gradually moved towards the Germans. The Nazis portrayed as ‘dark figures’ not only presented them with anonymity but also with an evil presence only felt by watching the scene shot in this way. These camera tricks and strange camera angles are similar to the slow-motion media device because they are both successful media devices in the opening scene, but they also contradict each other.
This is because the slow-motion media device has a nauseous effect on viewers. In contrast, the camera tricks actually portray non-violence, as the bullet tricks enabled no bullets to be shot. With this in mind, the slow-motion media device makes the scene negatively impact the audience. In contrast, the camera trick with the bullets has the opposite, positive effect on the audience. With the audience in mind, this review moves onto its’ final point. A brain teaser for you, who is the target audience for the film ‘Saving Private Ryan’? Before you even think about the answer, let me show you who I think the target audience is and see if it changes your answer.
The age rating for this film is fifteen, which would make you believe it’s supposed to be viewed by adults. Still, I think that Spielberg was also trying to help children from the age of around eleven to fifteen to learn the ultimate lesson of war and dictatorship – never let that kind of devastation happen again. The sheer shock factor of the whole opening battle sequence teaches us a lesson by itself – people shouldn’t have to go through this ever again. And so whether adults have watched the film or not, I feel the film is for the next generation’s education of war – so they’ll stop the war in future. This reason tells me that Spielberg’s target audience was teenagers.
In conclusion, ‘Saving Private Ryan’ is an awe-inspiring film that provokes many emotions, feelings and reactions using media devices such as slow-motion scenes and camera angles and tricks. Also, the film’s target audience is, in my personal opinion, teenagers aged eleven upwards. These facts aside, I believe the meaning of the film and the reason why it was made is to teach everyone a lesson of how war is really like by shocking this interpretation into us visually. The film ‘Saving Private Ryan’ has to be seen to be believed and is as unmeaningly educational as it is shocking.
Commentary. I wrote this review on ‘Saving Private Ryan’ for teenagers in a mature but clear way on what the film includes and what the film means or is meant for. I wrote it maturely to help them understand that it is a mature film with mature issues covered in an abruptly sickening way. Still, I also helped them understand that this film is educational and can teach you one of the most important life lessons, with shocking visual effects. This review should make teenagers want to watch the film ‘Saving Private Ryan’ to learn about moral issues and the consequences of war.