How Historically Accurate Is Saving Private Ryan?


MIKA27
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How Historically Accurate Is Saving Private Ryan?

Few movie scenes capture the horror of war like Saving Private Ryan. Seeing the storming of the beach in all its ugliness — the fear, the seasickness, the bullets, the desperation, the death — gives us a cold look at the reality of D-Day and how terrifying it must have been. But just how historically accurate is that scene? History Buffs analyses scenes from Saving Private Ryan to point out what actually happened versus what is Hollywood fiction.

Things like soldiers sinking in the ocean because of the weight of their gear? Yeah, that happened.

Soldiers being shredded with bullets while sinking in the ocean because of the weight of their gear? Probably, less likely (because of physics).

Other things (shooting an enemy sniper through a scope) are obviously fictionalized but there’s a lot of authenticity in the movie (like the premise of the movie) and a lot to learn from details that I’ve never noticed before.

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Great movie. One along with the God Father and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, that I'll sit and watch anytime it's on regardless of how many times I've already seen it.

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My father was an infantryman in the Battle of the Bulge (Ardennes) and several other European theatres, and he said this film was the most realistic depiction of battle he had seen other than actual documentary film.  It kind of shook him up.  I'm not sure about the accuracy of the narrative, though.   In comparison, I watched the 1965 film "Battle of the Bulge" with him in the movie theater when it came out, and somewhere towards the end of the film he stood up and started yelling at the screen about how inaccurate the narrative was.  The audience was not pleased. 

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I remember seeing and hearing about Private Ryan coming out and three friends and I made an effort to not seeing any spoilers by flipping the channel every time an add or anything about the movie popped up. All of us were former military and jaws dropped when the landing ramp dropped. We loved the details they picked up on and used in the movie. Use of baseball signals in infantry tactics, medical use of quick clot and morphine on the battlefield, the fear of going up against and devastation of the MG-42 machine gun etc. I do remember there was a veteran hotline setup for awhile after WWII vets who watched the movie began to experience PTSD all over again.

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I have nothing to say about private Ryan but that it is a great movie. Schindler's List though, imho, is a true masterpiece. Right up there with Laurence Of Arabia and The Godfather.

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Having visited the beaches of Normandy on the 70th anniversary of D-Day, and having stood on the beach and on one of the abandoned troop transports, and then climbing the hill behind the beach and actually looking out from the gun turrets, I can say with certainty the set was very well done. Normandy, to this day, has been very well preserved and much of the footage you see in the movie is very close, if not exact, to what you actually see in Normandy. It is a very moving experience, especially the cemetery tour, well worth the cost. The day I visited Normandy the weather was overcast and drizzling, with a strong onshore wind,  and despite being in early June the temperature was about 50F. I could not help imagine what it was like on D-Day and I envisioned the horror, the desperation and the immense fear and death that took place on that beach. As soon as I got home I watched the movie Saving Private Ryan again and was amazed at how realistic it seemed.

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My grandpa piloted a landing craft.  He only ever told us that war was hell.  He never elaborated.

 

Can only imagine the horrors he saw firsthand on Normandy.

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