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By Daniel Arkin
Steven Spielberg, a child of the 1950s, grew up with dramatic Hollywood dramas about the sacrifices of World War II. But with "Saving Private Ryan," the Oscar-winning director set out to make a war movie like no other he, or the public around the world, has ever seen.
"Saving Private Ryan," a limitless epic about D-Day and the invasion of Normandy, would reshape America's cultural memory of World War II, exposing millions of spectators to the violent agitation of the stomach and the poignant intensity of that fundamental chapter in the war.
"If we got it in the right way, and pbaded the test of time, this would be maintained, in some way, by what those children experienced at 6:30 in the morning of June 6, 1944." Spielberg told Tom Brokaw of NBC News about the date of the Allied landings on the beaches of Normandy.
In the almost 21 years since "Saving Private Ryan" debuted with $ 481.8 million in global ticket sales and five Oscars, few war movies have seized the imagination of the public as energetically as the acclaimed Spielberg saga. And many filmmakers, both on the big screen and the small one, have been inspired by their unprecedented and unwavering realism.
"What Steven wanted to do from the first moment was to use all his magic and all the tools that existed in the cinema from 1997, and make a war movie that would break each of the tropes, visually and Cinematically, that all the War movies had, "said Tom Hanks, who stars in the film, to Brokaw.
Fathom Events, a company that projects clbadics in theaters across the country, is betting that a new generation of viewers will find "Private Ryan" just as exciting. The company plans to re-launch it in select theaters on June 2 and June 5, just a few weeks before the 75th anniversary of D-Day.
"This monumental movie demands the experience of seeing a movie theater," said Ray Nutt, CEO of Fathom.
& # 39; It was a game change & # 39;
In the eyes of most of the critics and the legions of fans of the film, the 25-minute bravery that opens "Private Ryan", a frantic recreation of the Normandy landing, has become its most influential and lasting contribution to the pantheon of the American movie.
"We take every inch of that beach, as filmmakers, not as war veterans," Spielberg told Brokaw with a smile. "It took us 25 days of shooting to capture 25 minutes of those landings."
The scenes in Omaha Beach, recorded partly in a shaking hand camera and soaked in sickly shades of green and gray, find Captain Miller of Hanks and his troops trapped in a maelstrom of bullets, blood, bombs and guts in the middle of a seemingly endless stretch of sand. .
The long sequence, acclaimed then and now for its stark and stark honesty, was a radical departure from the more stylistic and, at times, more sanitized war dramas of the 1950s and 1960s.
"It was a game changer," said Steven Jay Rubin, screenwriter, film historian and author of a book about American combat movies. "It was devastatingly dramatic, visceral, immersive, I did not touch my popcorn because I felt like sacrilegious eating while I watched it."
Spielberg and his production team were relentless in their quest for historical authenticity. Hanks and his castmates, including Tom Sizemore, Edward Burns, Barry Pepper and the previous "Fast and Furious" Vin Diesel, underwent a rigorous "training camp" under the command of Marine Captain Dale Dye, who now is 74 years old
"The legend of this now is that we were in the cold frosts for weeks and weeks, I think it was only five days," Hanks told Brokaw with a smile. "When a false ambush occurs at 3 in the morning and you wake up from your store, your adrenaline increases."
Rubin pointed to parts of more recent cultural works that he believes are clearly in debt to Spielberg, from the psychological anguish of Clint Eastwood's "American Sniper" and the disorienting intimacy of Christopher Nolan's "Dunkirk" to video games like "Call of Duty."
Matt Shakman, a television director who directed the penultimate episode of "Game of Thrones," in which Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) King & # 39; s Landing torch with dragon fire, recently told the New York Times that he consulted the violent Spielberg's work before production.
"I watched" Saving Private Ryan ", the opening battle on the beach, where the sound fades and Tom Hanks is watching how the men are burned alive and shot to death – that was what it should be like for Jaime. Men die left and right around them, "Shakman told The Times, referring to another" Tronos "character, Jaime Lannister.
Spielberg and Hanks, however, hope that the most enduring legacy of "Saving Private Ryan" is their fierce but fervent celebration of the men who gave their lives to defend their country and their brothers in arms.
"I think the danger is that I enter some kind of mythological place," Hanks said. "If we ever forget that it was a group of people that went through, and they all had names like Ernie, and Buck and Robert, I think that's when we did a bad job as citizens of the world."