Saving Private Ryan: 50 weeks/50 films

From Lee Anne:
Saving Private Ryan was an incredibly well made film.
It was absolutely devastating.
Of course it was devastating {obviously} because of the constant deaths & brutality being displayed, but it was devastating on a whole other level for me.
It was most devastating to me, however, because it told the story as though all those deaths were necessary, were good, were right & just.
It was shown to us throughout that the government didn’t care about the lives of its’ soldiers – or anyone, really, for that matter – it was “luck of the draw” that Private Ryan was being chosen to go home, because his brothers all died, and the government needed to look good… It needed to look like it cares about its’ soldiers & their families.
It assumed that it’s a story worth telling.

It’s a story that as a viewer, you can’t help but to be moved by. But it wrongly portrays the life {& death} of soldiers as much more glamourous than they are, and as right, as JUST. It’s wrong, all the way around, no matter how beautifully & cinematically you tell it, it’s a story based on lies.

{John will elaborate on this.}


From John:
Saving Private Ryan is a film I have put off seeing for over 10 years (the theatrical release was 1998). One of the most difficult things with our 50 weeks/50 films challenge is going to be seeing cinema that cuts to the core of my person and in many cases, breaks my heart.

That’s exactly what this film did.
It broke my heart for the men who, by volunteer or draft, gave up everything to fight for the idea of America: freedom, honor, equality, etc … words that only have real meaning in a certain context.
It broke my heart for the women who, by no choice of their own, had to lose husbands, sons, grandsons, fathers to the horror of war with the best possible result being a return alive with a body intact and a mind forever skewed by the experience.
It broke my heart for the children who, with or without knowing, gave up their most precious years with their fathers (this was especially hard with my new daughter close by).

Switching gears for a moment.
The acting was AMAZING. Even with the extreme violence, gore and an explosion going off every few minutes, each character was very well developed by a stellar cast (including Tom Hanks, Edward Burns and Paul Giamatti).
Steven Spielberg is known for taking epic topics and stories and making them both expansive and intimate. And this film was a great example of just that. The way we were kept aware of just how constant war is while giving us moments of “rest” made you feel like you were experiencing the battle with these eight guys.
The whole production had a grit that can’t be matched by today’s highly digital productions. It’s different when a real camera is shooting real explosions, going through real water and needing to be cleaned after “real” blood splatters on it.

Back to the heartbreak:
Seeing the display of human suffering, it’s not surprising that most people don’t like war… but what other option do we have?

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.

Every person involved in the Nazi movement had a reason, most of them were “good” people who just didn’t see any reason to take action against what was happening at the time.
How many pastors, priests and others who claim the name of Jesus, gave their support to the Nazi party?
How many parents allowed the poison of the Nazi propaganda to permeate their households?
How many school teachers began changing their curriculum to the anti-Jewish garbage when asked to do so?

The hardest thing about this film for me was thinking about every person who lost a life, their own or their loved one, because someone didn’t care enough to stand up and defend their neighbor.

One of the core themes of the film is that one man is worth fighting for…. one man who didn’t want to leave the war… one man who “got lucky” because his other three brothers died around the same time…. one man who cost 8+ lives just because the US Government needed a PR piece.

One Man gave us everything America promises – life, liberty, true joy, peace, love and hope. This Man had to give everything, even if only one man would be saved. He gave himself to be put between me and the ultimate destruction – even when I didn’t want to be saved, before I realized how close to death I was, and without anyone telling Him it would be “worth it in the end.” This Man truly gave Himself, without sword or gun or tank or weapon of any kind, for every solider  who has ever killed in the name of “life, libery and the pursuit of happiness.”

This film was truly incredible in its storytelling, but the story itself was tragic – that our true Enemy has us fighting each other instead of taking hold of the victory Jesus has already won against Sin and Death.

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