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Following the Normandy Landings, a group of U.S. soldiers go behind enemy lines to retrieve a paratrooper whose brothers have been killed in action.
This is most likely my favorite war movie of all time. I've seen plenty of them over the years, but this is the one that I've watched over and over and over. Mind you, this film is not for the faint of heart...literally. I'm currently recovering from open heart surgery and I don't think I could have sit through this movie six weeks ago. There is a significant amount of graphic violence and death from almost the beginning right through to the end. But, that's what war is...or at least what it was in 1944 before satellites and smart bombs changed the way war is waged.
Steven Spielberg has created quite a few great movies over the years, in my opinion. This is surely one of his greatest, and not only because it won five Oscars, including Best Director for Steven. This movie does a fantastic job of capturing a glimpse of a very difficult time in American history and does it through a beautiful story that taps into the soul of an American Army unit struggling to survive that bloody war and the demons that came with it. Rarely do you see a movie capture so well the intense feeling of brotherhood that exists within a band of soldiers during time of war. This movie does it, and does it so well that it's one of the few movies that I will sit and watch just about any time I come across it on TV.
There are so many great performances in this film...some that carry the story through the entire picture, and some that only grab a few minutes of screen time. Of course, the cast is anchored around Tom Hanks who did an incredible job as Capt. John Miller the leader of the rag tag unit at the center of the story (he was recognized for his performance with an Oscar nomination for Best Actor). The ensemble cast that surrounds and supports him is almost perfect. I was amazed at the acting of each and every one of them: Tom Sizemore, Edward Burns, Barry Pepper, Adam Goldberg, Jeremy Davies, Giovanni Ribisi, Vin Diesel, and Matt Damon. Of course, I was also thrilled with some of the cameos from both known and (at the time) up-and-coming actors like Ted Danson, Paul Giamatti, Dennis Farina, Nathan Fillion, Dale Dye and Bryan Cranston. Wow. What an awesome cast.
The visuals in this movie are almost surreal. The magic with which Janusz Kaminski and Spielberg are able to transport you to 1944 France is mind blowing. It's not surprising that Kaminski bagged the Best Cinematography Oscar that year. There were a number of scenes that included what I can only assume is film that suffered from some light damage in the can, but it only seemed to add to the mystique of the story.
I love this movie. I can't imagine there are too many non-millennials that haven't seen this film. But, whoever you are, if you have yet to see this wonderful war movie, grab your snacks and soda and blanket and sit back for the ride of your life. While it may not be suitable for young audiences, I would almost say that it should be on the required viewing list for being an American.
I give this movie 5 out of 5 stars.