When Steven Spielberg's new film opened in the US a couple of weeks after Independence Day, it proved two things: word-of-mouth reports about the grisly realism of the opening scenes were far from a turn-off; and the idea of an almost-three-hour movie on World War II was not going to deter audiences, who made Saving Private Ryan one of the late summer's major hits. Filmed on location in Europe in 1997 (with Ireland standing in for the Normandy beaches), Spielberg's film follows a group of GIs commanded by Tom Hanks through the slaughter of the D-Day landings and on into a bizarre assignment: to find a soldier (played by Matt Damon) who is the only surviving brother of four, and whom the US Army has decided to pull out of combat and return home. Needless to say, it is not that easy. But, for all that it has a story to tell, Saving Private Ryan's real power lies in that opening half-hour, as the troops come ashore into a hail of machine-gun and mortar fire - a sequence which has been hailed by WWII veterans as the last word in realism, and was described by Variety's Todd McCarthy as "akin to a great silent film".

Cast & Crew

Directed by: Steven Spielberg

Written by: Robert Rodat

Produced by: Gary Levinsohn, Steven Spielberg, Ian Bryce, Mark Gordon

Cast: Giovanni Ribisi, Tom Hanks, Matt Damon, Dennis Farina, Edward Burns, Tom Sizemore, Jeremy Davies, Vin Diesel, Adam Goldberg, Barry Pepper

Nominations and Awards

  • Screen International Award (for a non-European film) 1998