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Saving Private Ryan

Saving Private Ryan  

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  1. 1. Does Saving Private Ryan belong on the AFI List?

    • Yes
      5
    • No
      7

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  • Poll closed on 03/16/19 at 07:00 AM

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6 minutes ago, grudlian. said:

I don't think any of those had a remote chance of ever getting nominated for Best Picture but they are certainly worthy of consideration.

Oh for sure. There's no chance they'd actually have been nominated, but certainly all 3 are high enough quality, and have made big impacts on culture.

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3 hours ago, grudlian. said:

I don't think any of those had a remote chance of ever getting nominated for Best Picture but they are certainly worthy of consideration.

The Truman Show probably was a legit contender, given that it got three other nominations. Rushmore was too small a release at the time and Big Lebowski was considered a flop.

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I'm looking through the list of 1998 films on letterboxd and I'm just thinking, "I think 1998 may just have been not a good year for film."

Granted, I'm less taken with Rushmore and Lebowski than just about everyone else I've encountered talked to with movies over the years. So that might be skewing my take on the year.

From the nominees, I'd probably take The Thin Red Line, but Mallick isn't for everyone, particularly later-Mallick (sometimes including me), and it doesn't seem like the type of movie that would win.

 

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3 hours ago, ol' eddy wrecks said:

I'm looking through the list of 1998 films on letterboxd and I'm just thinking, "I think 1998 may just have been not a good year for film."

It was okay, but then 1999 was phenomenal (yet the Oscar nominations were somehow worse).

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16 hours ago, ol' eddy wrecks said:

I'm looking through the list of 1998 films on letterboxd and I'm just thinking, "I think 1998 may just have been not a good year for film."

Granted, I'm less taken with Rushmore and Lebowski than just about everyone else I've encountered talked to with movies over the years. So that might be skewing my take on the year.

From the nominees, I'd probably take The Thin Red Line, but Mallick isn't for everyone, particularly later-Mallick (sometimes including me), and it doesn't seem like the type of movie that would win.

 

That's what I was thinking after a quick look. I'd put After Life and Run Lola Run with what Almostaghost said. Then Saving Private Ryan and Thin Red Line would still be in my top 10.

At the very least, Shakespeare In Love (and definitely not Life Is Beautiful) would not be.

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46 minutes ago, grudlian. said:

That's what I was thinking after a quick look. I'd put After Life and Run Lola Run with what Almostaghost said. Then Saving Private Ryan and Thin Red Line would still be in my top 10.

At the very least, Shakespeare In Love (and definitely not Life Is Beautiful) would not be.

This gets tricky with foreign movies because of release dates. I think After Life and Run Lola Run were not released in the U.S. until 1999, so they would not have been in Oscar contention in 1998. (And yes, those two movies add to the argument of 1999 being the great movie year of the 90s.)

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On 3/8/2019 at 5:05 AM, bleary said:

 

Cameron mentioned it, but it's worth underlining: Old Man Ryan didn't just drag his family to Arlington Cemetary (a relatively normal spot for tourists visiting DC), but to the American Cemetary in Normandy.  So the whole family flew to Paris, took a 2+ hour train to Bayeux, and then took a 30-minute cab ride to the cemetary, and no one in his family pressed him on why or who in particular he was interested in finding.

I feel the need to talk about this. WE clearly see his family filming Old Man Ryan as they are walking through the cemetery. They clearly knew why they were there and that Ryan was a veteran. They're walking behind him out of reverence and respect. Letting him go through what he's going through. Them milling around him asking questions would be a little inappropriate. Maybe he didn't tell his family the exact details about what happened to him at the end of the war. Or maybe he did, but didn't say names. The man lost his entire platoon seemingly, in addition to 6 of the 8 men sent to rescue him. That has to weigh heavily on you.

 

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I felt betrayed by Spielberg when I first saw this, because it was the first movie where it was cemented for me that he wasn't my fun uncle Spielberg any more, the guywho made great adventure movies like Jaws or Raiders for me, and all the other American kids.   Spielberg had favorites, and this movie was made for his favorite nephews, not for all of his nephews.  This movie was made as a metaphor about the Holocaust, and it was made for a certain bigoted portion of the the American Jewish population, while trying to entertaining in a cheap bloodthirsty way, the rest of us.  The metaphor the movie is aiming for, and expected to be understood by the Jewish members of the population, is that Ryan is a surviving Jew, and saving the surviving Jews is really important, and dying to do so is really worthwhile.  I doubt that anyone who believed in equality for everyone, that everyone is a human being, and that everyone's life is worthwhile, and worth saving, would agree with this. 

The movie is horribly focused on educating the audience towards this Truth.  The Beach invasion sequence is designed to raise one's blood lust towards the faceless German soldiers, so we can cheer when they are machinegunned in their trenches at the end.  When the topic of war crimes is brought up, we are repeatedly given sequences where our boys are killed, while the question of whether mercy should be shown to Germans is repeatedly answered with the answer "No".  The "Steamboat Willie" soldier is spared, but only to return later to kill the nice Tom Hanks.  Upham hesitates on the stairs while the Jewish soldier is being slowly stabbed (with his own souvenir Hitler Youth knife), metaphorically representing the late entry of the U.S. into World War II, which arguably caused Jews to die. 

Amy is very perceptive noting the structure of the film, the Germans slaughtering Americans, and then the satisfying payback as the Americans slaughter Germans. It's repeated over and over, and it's for entertainment purposes, and bigoted refusal to see the enemy as human adds to the entertainment factor. "Steamboat Willie" is a pretty ugly dude, in a Hollwood sense, and he's the biggest villain of the piece. We only see the eyes of the Sniper, before God helps the American sniper kill him.

The message of the film is that God was on the side of the Americans, even if the film proffers an insincere cynicism about the value of what they are doing as soldiers, and the reason that God is on their side is because .... they are saving the surviving member of a large family (Ryan/The Jews of Europe).  Upham is bad because he is cowardly and lets a literal Jewish character die due to his cowardice. 

The question the film asks, is the horror of war worth the effort? And the answer the film unironically presents is, yes, if it saves Jews.  That Spielberg tries to be subtle about this (in his clumsy Spielberg way) is why the film is confusing to many. It's a lot simpler a movie.  Germans Bad, Ryan Good, Dying to Save Ryan good. Blah.  I'm not Jewish, and don't think that, even if I were, I would think dying to save me would be worth someone else's life. Only a bigot would think this way, and I'm sad that my Uncle Spielberg turned out to be one.

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On 3/17/2019 at 10:14 AM, Arglebargle said:

it was made for a certain bigoted portion of the the American Jewish population

I guess I'll be the person who finds this to be a troubling.

On 3/17/2019 at 10:14 AM, Arglebargle said:

The metaphor the movie is aiming for, and expected to be understood by the Jewish members of the population, is that Ryan is a surviving Jew, and saving the surviving Jews is really important, and dying to do so is really worthwhile.  I doubt that anyone who believed in equality for everyone, that everyone is a human being, and that everyone's life is worthwhile, and worth saving, would agree with this.

Orrr... The movie is steeped in the worldview of the American nationalistic and often jingoistic mythology of, "Be grateful to war vets. They gave their lives so you could have your freedom." (which doesn't even apply to any military conflict since WW2, yet, still said).  I'll caveat it with the fact that I haven't seen the movie, but having heard everyone talk about it, I feel like I have seen good chunks of it, and it seems pretty clear that's what's going on here.  I mean, looking up who wrote the screenplay, I'm not recognizing much of their other works (actually there aren't a lot), but they also did American Braveheart.  I mean, The Patriot.  Another war movie, which I also have not seen, but I'll guess based on true events that manages to be very ahistorical and pulls at nationalistic strings (I'm literally just guessing, by taking Braveheart and making it American).

It seems like everything else you're reading into is a weird conspiratorial bent, while not factoring in, that's just how American culture remembers the two World Wars.

 

 

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5 hours ago, ol' eddy wrecks said:

I mean, The Patriot.  Another war movie, which I also have not seen, but I'll guess based on true events that manages to be very ahistorical and pulls at nationalistic strings (I'm literally just guessing, by taking Braveheart and making it American).

I have seen The Patriot, and you are correct sir.

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Wait, Ryan was Jewish? I genuinely missed that. 

I find it interesting that the D-day invasion seems to be the only thing I remember people discussing about the film. That it was the first to really show the horror of people's bodies torn apart on the battlefield. I found that all so unbelievably unnecessary. It was gore for gore's sake. It was voyeuristic and manipulative, like the rest of the movie was. The entire first 30-45 minutes of the movie (complete with the framing device) was unnecessary and did nothing to advance the plot, save to maybe put some perspective on how hard it would be for these soldiers to go on a mission to save one guy.  

The whole logic of saving one man to save his mother from losing all her sons was, while historically accurate, total BS. Does anyone else's mother suffer 1/4 less because only one son dies instead of four? Suffering is suffering. Mourning is mourning. It seems horrible to justify the deaths of so so many other men to save one. I really felt for all the other mothers who would have to be told their sons' lives weren't worth as much as Ryan's.

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There's zero indication in the movie that Ryan is Jewish, and I don't think it's Spielberg's way to be circumspect about this kind of thing: he'd already made one movie that is very explicitly about the Holocaust (Schindler's List) and then later another explicit take on the contradictions of modern Judaism (Munich). Saving Private Ryan already has a character (played by Adam Goldberg) who is openly and vocally Jewish. I don't really buy that Ryan himself is some kind of stealthy stand-in for a segment of the Jewish population. With Spielberg, a cigar is usually just a cigar.

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On 3/19/2019 at 9:20 AM, WatchOutForSnakes said:

Wait, Ryan was Jewish? I genuinely missed that. 

Sycasey responded to that more thoroughly than I could have.  Arglebargle's post left me assuming they were arguing there was some hidden metaphor that only Jews would recognize.  I mean, it's a character named Ryan, played by Matt Damon.  It was some real Charles Kinbote/exiled king of Zembla-reading of Pale Fire type there, but with uncomfortable amounts of anti-semitism.

Though, for all I know, maybe Spielberg pissed off some Russian oligarchs and this was a bot.  Or maybe Netflix hired the same PR firm Facebook hired in response to the whole Oscars stuff.

 

 

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