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Saving Private Ryan’s opening scene is being called ‘cinema’s most brutal depiction of war’

Saving Private Ryan’s opening scene is being called ‘cinema’s most brutal depiction of war’

It's been 25 years since the film landed in cinemas and that first moment is still harrowing.

We have officially hit the 25th anniversary of the incredible and epic Saving Private Ryan.

The legendary film debuted on July 24 all the way back in 1998 and it is still having an impact on audiences to this day.

However, one of the most enduring parts of this film is the opening sequence.

It begins on 6 June 1944 as the US Army lands at Omaha Beach as part of the Normandy invasion in World War II.

The boats arrive on the shore and soldiers are picked off one by one in a horrific fashion from the German forces.

It's one hell of a way to start a film and Esquire went as far as saying it's 'cinema’s most brutal depiction of war’.

Writer Tom Ward said: "The 24-minute sequence captures war in a way that we hadn’t seen before, and hasn’t been matched since."

He put it down to the 'nervous shakes that possess Hanks’ hands', 'the vomit', and 'the desperate surprise of soldiers drowning in the shallows, dragged down by their gear'.

When you add in the sound effects of the 'indiscriminate German bullets landing with a "puft" in American chests', 'relentless machine gun fire and explosions' and the chaotic nature of the way it's filmed, there's no denying it's a harrowing scene.

Paramount Pictures

Director Steven Spielberg wanted to make sure Saving Private Ryan addressed the reality and brutality of war.

He has previously said in several interviews that he thought previous war films were 'santized' versions of what really happens on the front lines.

So, he decided to do it right.

"I remember one of the [veterans] telling me the entire charge up the beach was a blur—not a blur to his memory, because he still remembered every single grain of sand when he had his face buried in it from that fusillade raining down on them from above," Spielberg explained to the Los Angeles Times.

"But he described how everything was not in focus for him.

"And he described the sounds, and he described the vibrations of every concussion of every 88 shell that hit the beach, which gave some of them bloody noses, rattled their ears.

Paramount Pictures

"The ground would come up and slam into their faces from the concussions."

However, nothing would have prepared some of the main cast for how that opening sequence would look when the cameras started rolling.

Tom Hanks recalled the moment he heard 'action' when they were filming.

"I was in the back of the landing craft, and that ramp went down and I saw the first one, two, three, four rows of guys just getting blown to bits," he told Roger Ebert.

"In my head, of course, I knew it was special effects, but I still wasn't prepared for how tactile it was.

"The air literally went pink and the noise was deafening and there's bits and pieces of stuff falling all on top of you and it was horrifying."

While it might have been confronting, it clearly landed with audiences around the world and Saving Private Ryan remains one of the truly great depictions of war.

Featured Image Credit: Paramount Pictures

Topics: TV and Film