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Saturday Anzac Blockbuster: Saving Private Ryan

Saturday 24 April at 8.30pm

Saving Private Ryan

Cast: Tom Hanks, Matt Damon, Adam Goldberg, Edward Burns, Vin Diesel, Barry Pepper.

Director: Steven Spielberg

Steven Spielberg scored a massive critical and commercial hit with this expertly made World War II drama starring Tom Hanks, Matt Damon and a host of fine character actors.

The film opens with a now legendary scene that will go down in the annals of cinematic history - the storming of Omaha beach on D-Day. The portrayal of the mania, ferocity and violence of combat in this scene marks probably the most visceral cinematic take on warfare ever presented on screen.

Following this bravura opening, the plot of the film takes hold. Three of the four enlisted Ryan brothers have been killed in combat, so the powers that be have decided that the fourth (played by Matt Damon) should be relieved of duty and sent home to his grieving momma. Hanks plays Captain Miller, who leads a small band of troops into enemy territory to retrieve Ryan. But they call into question why so many of them should risk their lives to save one man.

Apparently the script began life as more of a buddies-on-patrol, M*A*S*H-like black comedy about war, but as it was developed by Spielberg, it became more of a sombre action drama. Elements of the humour remain however in the interaction of the soldiers, who are played by a wonderfully varied selection of young character actors

While it could be accused of being overly flag-waving at times, Saving Private Ryan is an undeniably powerful film that proves extremely watchable.

Trivia: The movie's famous opening sequence took four weeks to shoot.