Thursday, June 15, 2017

Saving Private Ryan (1998)

From a narrative standpoint this movie didn't have to open with the D-Day Invasion. You could have easily snipped out those first twenty-six pages of screenplay, started with the telegrams being typed out, and gone from there. Sure there are little character beats that get dropped in that opening sequence (about Captain Miller in particular) but nothing that isn't also covered later. It feels like the type of indulgence that a studio reader would have suggested cutting for budget's sake. But this isn't a screenplay, this is a film. On the page it's a pretty straightforward account of taking the beach. But with sound and images on a screen, it's an assault. It beats you into the ground. That opening is there to traumatize the audience. Now you are in Captain Miller's boots. You're startled by loud noises and hypervigilant about threats from all sides. Is this what it's like to have PTSD? Anything can happen and anyone can die at any moment. And that is why Steven Spielberg is a master.

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