Saving Private Ryan: D-Day 60th Anniversary Commemorative Edition Steven Spielberg

Saving Private Ryan: D-Day 60th Anniversary Commemorative EditionSteven Spielberg
On the heels of the 60th Anniversary of the "last great war" comes the commemorative edition of senor Spielbergo's WWII masterpiece, Saving Private Ryan, which after a skimpy initial release on DVD aims to flush out the daunting movie with both extras and companion documentary DVDs. Ignoring the fact that this excellent movie would be even better if Spielberg lopped off the heavy-handed attempts to not only tug on your heartstrings but grab and yank them as hard as possible that bookend the movie as intro and outro (and ignoring the fact that structurally these present day flashbacks are flawed, as the character having them is absent for much of the movie), Saving Private Ryan is one of the most realistic and visceral war movies ever made. Saving Private Ryan begins with the D-day invasion of Normandy by the Allies and then follows the quest of a squad of U.S. Rangers tasked with finding and retrieving a private in the middle of war-torn Germany whose brothers have all been killed in action and return him safely home. (Ryan is loosely based on a true story.) All of Ryan's accolades usually revolve around the acclaimed Normandy beach invasion (which is still one of the most graphic and horrific battle scenes ever created) and the stunning attrition of the film's final battle, but Spielberg is unquestionably on top of his game here (both in shot selection, tones, look and storytelling), and if you disagree, just ask his five academy awards. And no one plays the relatable everyman better than Tom Hanks (even if it's the extraordinary everyman: Ranger, astronaut, F.B.I. agent, etc.), whose Captain Miller is both the focus of the story and the moral compass. A companion disc houses a number of acceptable featurettes focusing on the logistics/difficulties of the beach invasion scene, the look/realism of the movie and the training of the cast (who were put through a truncated boot camp), but there is sadly no commentary track from those involved, and the featurettes feel short, considering the grand scale of the movie. But what does come through clearly is how everyone wanted to honour the veterans and make an accurate portrayal of their tribulations. However, there are also two separate film documentaries included in the commemorative edition (Shooting War and Price For Peace) that show a wealth of actual WWII footage (mostly from the Pacific theatre) that's more moving, disturbing and terrible than anything in Ryan. Unquestionably a great achievement, it still pales when placed next to the real thing. (Universal)