Monday, August 20, 2007

Scene Gems: A Quiet Moment from 'Saving Private Ryan'



Does Steven Spielberg really need an introduction? If you asked anyone on the street to name a film director, my bet is they'd pick Steve. He's made so many critically acclaimed and popular films, he's a household word. I'm a big fan also, not only because he has made great movies, but that he keeps on making them. He doesn't seem to ever let up and has raised the bar so freakishly high, he does deserve every accolade he has, as well as those he missed out on.

Saving Private Ryan (1998) is one of my all time favorites, and not just because of the intensely realistic battle scenes. Those are incredible and filled with raw power, but it's the smaller, intimate moments that contrast of the loud ones, helping to make it more of an experience and not just a movie.

This scene is the perfect example of this. In in, Capt. John Miller (Tom Hanks) and his men rest before another day of searching for Private James Ryan, the only one of four brothers left alive after D-Day. The men have already been through some hellish fighting, and here they make small talk, crack jokes, and remember home. It may seem like just filler between battles, but it serves a much bigger purpose.

This is classic character development. There is little action, but a lot of words and interaction. We get to know these men a little better, which makes us care more when they move into harm's way. They laugh and cry and run the gamut of emotions. It's a great scene.

Also notice the way Spielberg stages things. They are hiding out in an abandoned church, but it feels more like a tomb. All the men whisper, and their voices reverberate like they're inside a crypt. There are lots of vertical bars and pillars, insinuating a prison, especially when Wade (Giovanni Ribisi) tells the story about his mother. He is totally boxed in. As are they all, trapped in what could be their very last mission.

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