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Saving Private Ryan Critique

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June 6th 1944 is known as the day that turned the tides of World War II. Allied troops both Para dropped and landed on French occupied territory via the English Channel. For Captain John Miller, the beach was enough, but after only three short days of recovery, Miller and his squad of men are sent in search of what has become a very important soldier. Receiving his orders from the "very top", Miller and his men set out in search of a James Francis Ryan from Iowa. Along the way, Germans kill two of Miller's men, provoking the question, "How many men are worth one man's life?" As the movie progresses, Captain Miller's team finally finds Private Ryan, the man they were sent to save. John explains to him that all three of his brothers were killed in action, and as a result of this, James Ryan, the last surviving brother of the Ryan family, is ordered to be returned home so that he may carry on the family name.

However the conflict arises when James is reluctant to leave and is determined to stay with "the only brothers he has left", in order to defend a strategic bridge who's defense is vital in determining the immediate tide of the war. Again, Captain Miller, after already losing

two of his men, decides that Ryan and his fellow soldiers cannot hold the point on their own, and that he and his men will aid the already weakened defenders in hopes of not only defending the bridge from the Germans, but also to save Private Ryan from what would other-wise be his inevitable death.

After hasty preparations and decisive planning, the French ghost town previously torn apart by war, erupts to life once again with the sounds of conflict. The town of Rommel is slowly but surely being overtaken by the Germans, their numbers too great for Miller's men to fend off. On top of that, Captain Miller's squad is diminishing by the minute and all hope seems lost. John gives the order to fall back to the predetermined point of retreat called "the Alamo". This is the point of no return, and their last resort is to blow the bridge in order to prevent the Germans from gaining a strategic stronghold in the region. With bullets whizzing by and ricocheting in every direction, Captain Miller stands up, thus revealing himself to enemy fire, and moves to get the device needed to trigger the bridge to explode. However, Captain Miller takes a bullet from a German soldier on the other side of the bridge, and he falls to the ground. He knows its over, he knows he has failed, and that he will soon die. Private Ryan soon rushes to his side, along with one of Miller's original men. Miller looks at Ryan and simply says in his last dying breath, "Earn it...earn it." Captain John Miller then dies, and Ryan is left standing there alone, facing the realization that Miller's men selflessly gave their lives for someone they didn't even know, a true sacrifice.

Did James Francis Ryan earn what he got from those men? Did Private Ryan "repay" the men that had died so long ago with a good, honest, and productive life? The movie says "yes", and it concludes with Ryan saluting the graves of his fellow comrades who fell more than fifty years ago so that he could go home and live a full life. I believe Stephen Spielberg wants the viewers of this movie to believe that Ryan did the best he could to fulfill the wishes of Captain Miller. Certainly, Ryan did not neglect



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