Saving Private Ryan is a 1998 film set during the Invasion of Normandy in June 1944. It was directed by Steven Spielberg and stars Tom Hanks and Matt Damon. It won 5 academy awards and a Golden Globe Award for best motion picture. It has been praised for the realistic way in which it filmed the battle scenes. The film magazine Empire described the sequence showing the landing of U.S. forces at Omaha Beach as the ‘best battle scene of all time.’ The scene was named Number One on TV Guide’s ’50 Greatest Movie Moments.’
Omaha Beach was the name given to one of two positions where U.S forces landed in Normandy on D-Day, 6 June 1944. The other was Utah Beach.
The action in the scene is indeed very close to actual historical events. As shown in the film, many soldiers suffered from sea sickness. Many were shot even before they could reach the shore. Once ashore it was difficult to join up with other units on account of the heavy enemy fire. German machine guns in fortified positions shot at them, and they were continually shelled by artillery.
Spielberg meant to honour those who fought, and so he did not want the battle to look romantic as many World War II war films before had done. He wanted to show the real suffering and intense emotion of the soldiers.
The Landing scene was enormously difficult to do. The cast had to be militarily trained to do as the actual soldiers would have done. Attention was paid to every little detail of costume and scenery and military equipment.
In this video we’ll see the effort Spielberg and the production team went to make sure the Omaha Beach scene was accurate and memorable – paying homage to the young men who fought and gave their lives that horrific day.