Saving Private Ryan (1998) - Trivia - IMDb
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Saving Private Ryan (1998) Poster

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Some critics complained that the scene where the Rangers are throwing mortar rounds by hand at the German soldiers was unrealistic. In fact, Medal of Honor recipient Charles Kelly actually did this during a battle in Italy in 1943.
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Steven Spielberg cast Matt Damon as Pvt. Ryan because he wanted an unknown actor with an All-American look. He did not know Damon would win an Oscar for "Good Will Hunting (1997)" and become an overnight star before the film was released.
All the principal actors, except for Matt Damon, underwent several days of grueling army training. Damon was spared so that the other actors would resent him and would convey that feeling in their performances.
Tom Sizemore was battling drug addiction during production. Steven Spielberg gave him an ultimatum that he would be blood tested on the set every day of filming, and if he failed the test once, he would be fired and the part of Horvath would be recast and re-shot with someone else, even if it was at the end of production. Sizemore agreed and managed to pass all of his tests. Unfortunately, he would relapse into drug abuse several times later in his career. Ironically he played a DEA agent in Point Break (1991)
The Omaha Beach scene cost $11 million to shoot, and involved up to 1,000 extras, some of whom were members of the Irish Army Reserve. Of those extras, 20-30 of them were amputees, issued with prosthetic limbs, to play soldiers who had their limbs blown off.
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The two "German" soldiers who are shot trying to surrender were speaking Czech. They were saying, "Please don't shoot me, I am not German, I am Czech, I didn't kill anyone, I am Czech!" They were members of what the Germans called Ost [East] Battalions, men, mostly Czech and Polish, taken prisoner in eastern European countries invaded by Germany and forced into the German army.
When Tom Hanks' character tells the rest of the unit what he does for a living back home, Hanks' speech was much longer in the original script. Hanks, however, felt that his character wouldn't have said so much about himself, and he told director Steven Spielberg so. Spielberg agreed, and the speech was shortened.
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The Omaha Beach battle was filmed in sequence over a four-week period, moving the action up the beach shot by shot and day by day. Steven Spielberg claims that none of it was storyboarded in advance.
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Steven Spielberg is on record as saying that even if the film had received an NC-17 rating, he would have released it uncut anyway.
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The cast endured a grueling, week-long course at boot camp instructed by technical advisor Dale Dye. Tom Hanks, who had previously been trained by Dye for the Vietnam war scenes in "Forrest Gump (1994)," was the only one of them who knew it would be a hard and uncompromising experience: "The other guys, I think, were expecting something like camping in the woods, and maybe learning things while sitting around the campfire."
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Many veterans of D-Day congratulated director Steven Spielberg on the film's authenticity, as did James Doohan, who is best known for playing Scotty in Star Trek: The Original Series (1966). Doohan lost the middle finger of his right hand and was wounded in the leg during the war. Also, he participated in the invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944, at Juno Beach, where the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division led the attack. He commended Spielberg for not leaving out any gory details.
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Matt Damon ad-libbed the story he tells, towards the end of the film, about spying on his brother in the barn with the ugly girl. As described in Peter Bart's book "The Gross," the speech was rambling and not particularly funny or interesting, but the crew decided that's why it worked; it was true to an unformed kid like Ryan, fated to be at the center of this incredible operation. Steven Spielberg liked it so much he decided to leave it in the film.
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In 2006 Tom Hanks was inducted into the US Army's Ranger Hall of Fame as an honorary member, largely thanks to his portrayal of Capt., John Miller.
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In the German-dubbed version, one of the actors, who was a German veteran of the Normandy invasion, dropped out and had to be replaced due to the emotional realism of the film.
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When the camera shakes during explosions, Steven Spielberg used drills attached to the side of the camera, which were turned on when required. While shooting with this effect, the crew's photographer let Spielberg know that there was a shaker lens for cameras. Spielberg said in an interview that he had thought he had invented a great new technique.
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The film was blocked by the Censor Board of India for too much violence. The Board demanded cuts that Steven Spielberg declined to make and instead, he decided not to release the movie in India at all. Realizing the seriousness of the situation, the then Home Minister of India saw the movie himself and, impressed, ordered it to be released uncut.
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Cinemas were instructed to up the volume when they showed the film, as the sound effects play such a crucial part in its overall effect.
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In the D-Day landing sequence, there are anti-landing obstacles all along the beach. One type, nicknamed "Czech Hedgehog," was short and prickly and designed to rip open the hulls of the landing craft as they approached. There were also long poles pointing at an angle. Officially called Hemmbalken, they were made out of wood or metal and angled towards the beach, most being topped with a Teller mine (anti-tank mine) and placed in rows. The Germans expected the Allies to land at high tide, to minimize the open space that the infantry had to cross, and the beach obstacles were designed with this in mind. The plan was that the landing craft would ride onto the poles, which, at high tide would be underwater, and detonate the AT mines, causing death and destruction. However, the Allies landed at low tide, making the obstacles visible and, therefore, useless.
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This is the last film edited on a non-digital editing system to win an Academy Award for editing.
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The actors all had to undergo an intensive pre-shoot six-day boot camp during which all but one of them voted to quit, as they found it too arduous. The one dissenting voice was Tom Hanks, who thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Naturally, his vote counted the most, so the rest of the actors were obligated to complete their training.
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The Department of Veterans Affairs set up a special 800 number to help the hundreds of former soldiers who were traumatized after seeing the film.
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For the initial battle scenes in the sea, spare ammunition carried by the actors was made from wood, as metal was too heavy.
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This film losing out to Shakespeare in Love (1998) for Best Picture Oscar is often named as one of the greatest Oscar controversies in the history of the award show. Many industry people attributed the latter's win to its producer Harvey Weinstein incessantly lobbying for his movie with Academy voters, while attacking this film for its historical inaccuracies.
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Steven Spielberg requested that no one gain admittance to the movie once it had already begun, just as Alfred Hitchcock did during the release of "Psycho (1960)."
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Two of the landing craft used in the Omaha Beach scenes were actually used in World War II.
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The Omaha Beach scene was shot in the south of Ireland, in an area called Curracloe.
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Gunfire sound effects were recorded from actual gunfire with live ammunition fired from authentic period weapons, recorded at a live fire machine gun range near Atlanta, GA. The range is owned by a weapons manufacturer.
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The highest- grossing film of 1998 in the US. It was also the last R-rated film to lead the yearly box office until American Sniper (2014), which coincidentally, also had a military theme.
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Vin Diesel was paid $100,000 for the role of Caparzo, when he was still a little-known actor.
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Billy Bob Thornton turned down the role of Sgt. Horvath, because he did not want to film the Normandy beach scenes, due to a phobia of water.
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Steven Spielberg claimed that he considered the film a passion project as a gift to his aging father, a World War II veteran. He further claimed that he made the picture against his commercial instincts, believing there would not be a wide audience for a World War II movie with graphic violence, and was pleasantly surprised when it became a blockbuster hit.
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Aside from all the intensive exercises, the actors' boot camp involved camping in soaking wet conditions, only being allowed to call each other by their characters' names and boot camp supervisor Dale Dye referring to them all as "turds".
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Capt. Dale Dye (USMC Retired), the film's military advisor, makes an appearance as a War Department colonel in the scene with Gen. George C. Marshall. He is the white-haired officer advising Marshall against sending a rescue party after Ryan.
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The role of Caparzo was written just for Vin Diesel, after Steven Spielberg saw Diesel's independent film Strays (1997), which was also his directorial, writing, producing and lead acting debut.
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Military historian and author Stephen Ambrose, at a special screening of the film for him, had to ask for the screening to be halted 20 minutes in, as he couldn't handle the intensity of the opening. After composing himself outside for a few minutes, he was able to return to the screening room and watch the film to its conclusion.
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Steven Spielberg personally held and operated the camera for many shots during the Omaha Beach battle.
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Edward Norton was offered the role of Pvt. Ryan but turned it down to work on American History X (1998) instead. Both he and Tom Hanks (Capt. Miller) would eventually compete against each other for the Academy Award for Best Actor in 1999 but neither won (Roberto Benigni won for Life Is Beautiful (1997)).
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Originally, Steven Spielberg envisioned the film as being like a "Boy's Own Magazine" adventure. However, after he started interviewing World War II vets, he realized that such a treatment would be wholly inappropriate.
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Mel Gibson and Harrison Ford were both considered for the role of Capt. John Miller, before Steven Spielberg decided on casting Tom Hanks.
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Although Steven Spielberg reduced the color saturation by 60% for artistic reasons, both major American satellite providers (DirecTV and Dish Newtork) and numerous cable television providers turned up the chroma gain to re-enhance the color saturation to normal-looking levels when broadcasting the movie. They did this because on the first day or two of the broadcast run, their customer service centers were swamped with calls from viewers complaining that something was wrong with the color. For this reason, most copies of the movie since then have come with a disclaimer in the beginning, explaining that the presentation of the colors was the full intention of the filmmakers.
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The input of Industrial Light & Magic was significantly downplayed so as not to make the film appear to be a visual effects movie. ILM's contribution, however, was subtle but highly necessary, as most of the bullet hits in the Omaha Beach attack were digitally created.
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Forty barrels of fake blood were utilized in the opening battle scene.
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Upham's shoulder patch, a blue and grey "yin yang" symbol, identifies him as a member of the 29th U.S. Infantry Division. It symbolizes the fact that the division was composed of units from Virginia and Maryland, who fought on both sides of the American Civil War.
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Writer Robert Rodat first came up with the film's story in 1994, when he saw a monument dedicated to four sons of Agnes Allison of Port Carbon, PA. The brothers were killed in the American Civil War. Rodat decided to write a similar story set during World War II. The script was submitted to producer Mark Gordon, who then handed it to Tom Hanks. It was finally given to Steven Spielberg, who decided to direct. The film's premise is very loosely based on the real-life case of the Niland brothers.
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The film was banned in Malaysia, as Steven Spielberg refused to cut the violent scenes.
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Local reenactment groups, such as the Second Battle Group, were employed as extras to play German and American soldiers.
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Pvt. Jackson killing the German sniper by firing a shot through the man's scope and into his eye was based on a true incident, though not in World War II and not by a :Pvt. Jackson. It was accomplished by US Marine GySgt Carlos Hathcock during the Vietnam War. Hathcock was a sniper who was being fired at by a concealed North Vietnamese Army (NVA) sniper. He finally managed to catch a glimpse of the man's sniperscope, and put a round through it, killing him. The incident pictured in this film is a tribute to Hathcock, who has been regarded as one of the US military's top snipers.
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The names Rieben Edward Burns reads off the dogtags are all friends of Burns.
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For its first airing on Dutch television, the network had announced it would split the movie in two parts, to be shown on two consecutive days. Given the film's rating (only for viewers 16 and older), Dutch censors forbade starting the full unedited movie before 10:00 PM, something the network found undesirable due to the film's length. However, the announcement to split the movie in two led to so many complaints from viewers that the network decided to show the film in its entirety, starting at 9:00 PM. Despite issuing a special warning about the film's violence in advance of screening, the network was later fined for violation of broadcast rules.
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When using the field radio on the beach, Capt. Miller says something that sounds like "Cadaff, Cadaff" into the radio. He is actually saying CATF, meaning he is calling the Commander: Amphibious Task Force.
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There is a close-up of a map in a scene where Capt. Miller's hand is holding a compass and shaking. The map used as a prop is an actual map issued to members of the 82nd Airborne, and possibly other units. It is identified as "SHEET6E/5," identical to a map handed down by a survivor of the invasion.
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Inspired by the true story of the Niland brothers. Sgt. Frederick "Fritz" Niland was in the 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Div. "Band of Brothers (2001)," produced by Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks, told the story of another 101st Airborne unit, Easy Company of the 506th PIR, whose member Sgt. Warren "Skip" Muck was best friends with Niland back home in Tonawanda, NY.
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Steven Spielberg considered casting Matt Damon after viewing his performance in "Courage Under Fire (1996)," but thought he was too skinny. Ironically, Damon had put himself on a crash diet for the film on purpose, to appear emaciated. Robin Williams introduced Damon (who had regained much of his former weight) to Spielberg on the set of "Good Will Hunting (1997)," and Spielberg changed his mind.
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Tom Sizemore turned down a role in Terrence Malick's The Thin Red Line (1998)--which is also set during World War II-- to appear in this movie. Both films would contend for 1999's Best Picture Oscar, with neither winning.
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The Battle of Ramelle never took place in real life: the town and the battle were both fictional. A German counterattack over the causeway at La Fiere by the 1057th Grenadier Regiment and light tanks of the 100th Panzer Replacement Battalion was the inspiration for the climactic battle in the film.
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Real amputees were used for the shots of people with limbs missing. However, Bryan Cranston, who played the colonel in the headquarters unit to whom the three separate death notices are presented, and later presents to Gen. George C. Marshall, is not an amputee, although depicted as missing a left arm, apparently above the elbow.
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Steven Spielberg donated an undisclosed amount of money to build a theater at America's National D-Day Memorial in honor of his father, who flew Army Air Corps missions and was a radio operator in Burma during World War II.
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The "Bixby Letter," which is featured prominently, was actually inaccurate. The War Department incorrectly informed Abraham Lincoln about the fate of Mrs. Bixby's sons: two had died in battle, the others eventually survived the war. It is not clear whether Mrs. Bixby's story about her sons was borne from error or exaggeration, and why the War Department had failed to correct the report based on their own records.
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The special-effects team rigged the actors' rifles with special sensors that sent a signal to exploding squibs located on their targets. Shortly after an actor pulls the trigger, the targeted squib detonates, creating a realistic impact for both shooter and target.
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Shot in 59 days. The beach scene alone took 25 days.
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To achieve his unique "look" for the film, cinematographer Janusz Kaminski adjusted his film shutter to 90 degrees to create sharper, more realistic images, and used an Image Shaker to vibrate the camera to approximate the impact of explosions.
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Filming switched from England to Ireland after the British Ministry of Defence declined to provide the huge numbers of soldiers requested to act as extras in the film. The Irish Defence Forces supplied 2,500 men drawn from a mix of units of the FCA (Army Reserve) and Slua Muiri (Navy) reserves. They spent four weeks in the surf on the beaches while filming the landing scenes. The UK MoD also supplied several hundred soldiers from its reserves, but not the thousands that Steven Spielberg had asked for.
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President Abraham Lincoln received a letter from the governor of Massachusetts asking him to express condolences to Mrs. Lydia Bixby, a widow believed to have lost five sons during the Civil War. It would later be discovered that only two of Mrs. Bixby's five sons died in battle (Charles and Oliver). Of the other three, one deserted the army, one was honorably discharged, and another deserted or died a prisoner of war.
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Michael Madsen was offered the role of Sgt. Horvath. He turned it down, recommending his friend Tom Sizemore for the part instead.
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The opening scene of the Omaha Beach attack was used for EA's Medal of Honor (1999)'s opening mission. Some of the dialogue used in the movie is also used in the game, and it even follows the movie's general advance onto the German positions the movie portrayed.
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Typically, a movie camera's shutter is set at a 180-degree angle. However, cinematographer Janusz Kaminski decided to set the camera to a 90- and 45-degree shutter instead. This shortened the amount of time the film was exposed to light, creating an incredibly sharp image. When sending the film off to be processed, Kaminski had it run through the developer more than usual to achieve that washed-out look. Steven Spielberg later stated, "His idea delivered a fantastic visual, and the film looks freakin' great for it"
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After completing this movie, Steven Spielberg was inspired to create the video game Medal of Honor (1999) for the PlayStation System (PS1) under the DreamWorks' video game division, distributed by Electronic Arts. Spielberg is credited as a consultant and producer on that game and Capt. Dale Dye, the military consultant on the film, was also the consultant on the game. In the wake of this film's success and influence, the game went on to become a huge seller for the PlayStation console, resulting in numerous sequels including Medal of Honor: Frontline (2002) , which features a D-Day opening similar to the one in the film.
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The siege in the village of Ramelle was filmed on a set created on a disused airfield in Hatfield, England. The bridge so valiantly defended actually crosses a three-foot-deep canal created for the movie. Earlier scenes in the village of Neuville-au-Plain used the same set carefully shot from different angles.
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Harrison Young, who was cast as the elder Ryan due to his striking resemblance to Matt Damon, was 68 years old during production, playing a character in his 70s. During the actual Normandy invasion in 1944, Harrison was 14.
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This film resurrected Ted Danson's career as Cheers (1982) had been off the air for five years but he had been in a number of commercial and critical flops since then. His short cameo appearance proved he could do drama every bit as well as comedy and he's worked steadily ever since.
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Caparzo's letter acts as a motif, symbolizing how the soldiers honor their dead despite how many died. Each soldier taking it of his own accord (Wade to Miller to Reiben) displays his understanding of its significance, since they do it without request; there is an unspoken need between the soldiers to deliver it, demonstrating their bond. Wade in particular makes a copy of it himself, understanding its importance to carry out his fellow soldier's dying wish.
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Barry Pepper improvised the line "God gave me a special gift, made me a fine instrument of warfare".
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The first "DreamWorks Pictures" film to cross the $100 -million mark.
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Excluding the opening scene where he appears as an unidentified elderly man, the title character Pvt. Ryan (Matt Damon) is first introduced at 1 hour and 46 minutes, and has only 59 minutes of screen time.
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Jackson's perfectly-aimed hit on the sniper was achieved with a shot-through eye appliance that was attached to the rear of the sniper's scope. When the sight was raised to the eye of actor/stuntman Leo Stransky, the gory eye stuck to his face. This was timed with small explosives in the sight and an air cannon attached to Stransky's head. The completed shot was done in the first take and did not employ computer graphics of any kind.
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The half-track German motorcycle Miller calls a "rabbit" (its Allied nickname) is a Kleines Kettenkraftrad HK 101, or just Kettenkrad ("tracked motorcycle"). Meant for towing small trailers and light artillery over rough ground, it was the smallest tracked vehicle used in World War II, aside from the German "Goliath" (an unmanned remote-controlled mine). It was manufactured by NSU Motorenwerke AG. NSU survived the war to merge with Auto Union, forming Audi in 1969.
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At the rally point, Wade tells Reiben to smell a wounded trooper's leg to find out if it's "south of cheese" which means its a sign of serious infection; at that point it would need to be surgically debrided and antibiotics administered. Given the timeframe and their location, the trooper would likely be looking at amputation or even death. In WWII the supply of penicillin was low, so they often gave soldiers para-aminohippurate (PAH) along with penicillin. PAH competes for the same transporters in the kidney to clear the body, so giving PAH takes up the transporters and lets penicillin circulate longer in the body, thereby prolonging its effects.
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The term "FUBAR", referred to several times in the film, stands for "Fucked Up Beyond All Recognition". It is not a German word, as claimed in the movie, which is why Upham never heard of the phrase. In Spanish it was translated as "Fomare", which means "FOllado y MAchacado sin REmedio" (fucked and crushed without a remedy).
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This was the first movie to be rated NC-17 in Singapore. Due to the nature of the violence of the movie, it could not be passed as a PG film. Also, with the lack of an adult theme, it could not be granted an R(A) rating.
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The landing at Normandy at the start and the battle to defend Ramelle at the end both run about 25 minutes in length comprising nearly an hour of the film.
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At the radar site when Reiben, Mellish and Jackson are pointing their weapons at Steamboat Willie he says in German, "Bitte erschieß mich nicht, ich will mich selbst in Gnade Maria voll Gnade verwandeln" which means in English "Please don't shoot me I want to turn myself in, Hail Mary full of grace".
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Voted #1 greatest war film in UK's Channel 4 poll in 2005.
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The two German Tiger tanks were in fact Russian T-34s, modified to appear as convincing Tiger tanks. You can see the difference between these fake Tigers and the real ones by the differing drive wheels.
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During the landing at Normandy, a soldier is shown praying, in Latin, The Act of Contrition. Translated into English, it says, "Oh my God, I am heartily sorry for the sins that I committed and I detest all of my sins because I dread the loss of Heaven and the pains of Hell, but most of all because they offend You, my God, who are all good and deserving of all of my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Your grace, to confess my sins, to do penance and to amend my life. Amen".
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According to Tom Hanks the decision to film the assault on the machine gun nest through the perspective of Cpl. Upham's monocular was made on the spot by Steven Spielberg when the sunlight didn't allow for the planned coverage.
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Ranked #8 on the American Film Institute's list of the 10 greatest films in the genre "Epic" in 2008.
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The white stripes on the backs of some US helmets indicate higher-ranking soldiers. A vertical stripe indicates an officer (Capt. Miller). A horizontal stripe indicates an NCO (Sgt. Horvath).
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For the death of Pvt. Fallon, stuntman Marc Cass performed an industry first; a sideward air-ram explosion that propelled his character through a glass window. No wires were used for the stunt.
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The first independent film by "DreamWorks Pictures" to receive a Best Picture Oscar nomination.
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When Steven Spielberg won the Academy Award for Best Director for this film, he began his speech with, "Am I allowed to say I really wanted this?"
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Neil Patrick Harris was considered for the role of Pvt. Ryan.
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In an earlier draft of the script, Miller's squad takes Steamboat Willie with them and camps out for the night in a foxhole. That night, a German Panzer division arrives and camps out right next to the squad's foxhole. When a German soldier named Weiter approaches the foxhole asking for cigarettes, the squad forces Willie at gunpoint to converse with Weiter so their cover is not blown (Weiter never sees the Americans due to the darkness of the night). Through Willie, the squad ends up trading Reiben's Mickey Mouse lighter and Mellish's Hitler Youth Knife for food from Weiter, much to Mellish's displeasure.
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Capt. Miller's hand is often shown shaking throughout the film. Parts cut from the original script suggests this is a physical symptom of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
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Steven Spielberg made incredible decisions on the fly, putting the camera up to each scene and determining the direction from there. This might have been career suicide for a lesser director, but he wanted his shots to feel unpredictable, just like a real firefight.
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The Battle of Ramelle at the end of the film was based on a battle that actually took place three days after the Normandy landing, on 6/9/44. The intense battle between the 82nd and 101st US Airborne Divisions and 1057th Panzergrenadier Regiment of the German 91st Division approaching from the west happened at the La Fiere Causeway (the bridge in the film). Capt. John H. Miller (Tom Hanks) was based on Capt. John Sauls, who led the American troops. Confronted by a line of French-built Renault light tanks and a large number of heavily armed infantrymen, the Americans wasted no time going into action. Using any weapon available--bazooka, machine gun or hand grenade--Saul's men disabled one tank after another, sometimes from only a few yards away. At last out of ammunition, the men regrouped and retreated toward the orchard where the remaining American troops would spend the next crucial 48 hours cut off from the causeway battle. The Germans now held the western end of the causeway in force. A heavy German counterattack threatened to push the still disorganized Americans back across the river the next day, but the assault was repulsed by American fighter aircraft. By mid-afternoon a linkup was finally achieved with Timmes men, who were still defending their orchard. Thus ended the fight for the causeway at La Fiére.
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Til Schweiger turned down the role of "Steamboat Willie" because he feared he would be typecast by it. He would, however, go on to star as a German soldier in Quentin Tarantino's "Inglourious Basterds (2009)."
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Differently from his squadmates, the uniform Barry Pepper wears as Pvt. Jackson under his field jacket is noticeably a greener color and baggier than the brown and tighter-fitting wool shirts worn by the rest of the squad. This is the US Army's cotton herringbone-twill (HBT) fatigue uniform which, although it was not meant to be a combat uniform, was used as such very commonly across all theaters of World War II, and would become the army's primary combat and work uniform in the Cold War era before being replaced in the Vietnam War.
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This was pitted against "The Thin Red Line (1998)" at the Oscars and among war movie buffs. This was more a function of marketing than anything else as "The Thin Red Line" was significantly slower paced and more philosophical, as compared to this film's traditional war movie feel.
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Ranked #10 on the American Film Institute's 100 Most Inspiring Movies of All Time (2006).
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Robert Rodat's script was bought by producer Mark Gordon, who liked the story but only accepted the final screenplay after eleven drafts.
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Voted #2 in "The top 20 war films as voted for by the British Forces" 2008 poll, by British Forces Broadcasting Service Television (BFBS TV).
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In one scene, Upham is laughed at for reading a book about "the bond of brotherhood that develops between soldiers during war." Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg would later go on to be executive producers of "Band of Brothers (2001)," a miniseries depicting the lives of soldiers during World War II, which is based on a book of the same name.
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When Mrs. Ryan goes to the door to greet the military car pulling up to her house, then collapses on the porch when she realizes why it must be there, a small picture of the four boys in military uniforms is visible on a right-hand table.
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Selected as the opening film at the 55th Venice Film Festival in 1998.
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On D-Day, the anti-landing obstacles made out of long poles pointing at an angle (officially called Hemmbalken), were made out of wood or metal and were designed to be angled towards the beach. In the movie's D-Day landing sequence, these anti-tank obstacles have been placed facing the wrong direction to what they should have been, and face away from the beach.
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One of the very last films to be released on laserdisc in November 1999. Laserdiscs ceased being manufactured at the end of that year.
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Tom Hanks celebrated his 41st birthday in 1997, when the movie was in principal photography during a break from filming, he jokingly said to Steven Spielberg "Today I am a man".
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During the landings at Normandy, many DUKW amphibious trucks were used in the actual operation. However, because of the late change of location from the UK to Ireland, agreement could not be reached in time with the supplier of the many DUKWs required for the film. Hence, there are no DUKWs displayed in the picture.
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Paul Giamatti says "The streets have been quiet for about 45 minutes" around the 45-minute mark in the movie.
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Scott Frank and Frank Darabont did uncredited script doctor work on the screenplay. Frank's work, according to claims, is the most prominent.
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Former U.S. President George W. Bush's favorite movie.
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Capt. Miller uses an M1A1 Thompson submachine gun. Sgt. Horvath uses an M1 carbine, Reiben uses a Browning Automatic Rifle M1918A2, Jackson uses a Springfield M1903A4, and Caparzo, Mellish and Upham use the M1 Garand.
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Caparzo's bloodied V-Mail letter reveals that his parents lived on West 112th Street in New York City and that he had written the letter on June 9th.
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One of Quentin Tarantino's favorite war movies.
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Most combat officers were in their late 20s or early 30s by the time of Normandy with everyone under them being younger even if only by a couple years. Tom Hanks was in his early 40s when this was filmed and most of the other actors were older than their characters; the age of Sgt. Horvath (nm000174)] was never hinted at (though Sizemore himself was 37).
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During their night in Neuville, Upham is surprised when Capt. Miller identifies a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson ("War educates the senses..."). This is an early clue to Miller's peacetime occupation as an English teacher.
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Steamboat Willie is the man seen catching and throwing back a grenade hurled at him by American troops during the defense of the bunker, and also since he only carries rifle ammunition pouches (rather than a machine gunner's webbing featuring a pistol and other pouches) he was certainly not the man who killed medic Irwin Wade. During the grenade fight he is seen wearing a Stahlhelm and a neck-toque of some kind.
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During the beach scene, Capt. Miller encounters a soldier clutching a typewriter and tells him to "throw that crap away". When Miller first meets Cpl Upham, he refuses to let him bring his typewriter along. In real life, Tom Hanks is an enthusiastic collector of manual typewriters and starred in a documentary about them called "California Typewriter (2016)."
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The man who saved Fritz Niland, the real-life "Private Ryan," was Catholic chaplain Father Francis L. Sampson (1912-96). It was he who was ordered by military authorities to find Niland, who had lost his three brothers a few days earlier on D-Day.
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German, American and British forces used "sticky bombs", shown in the movie by American troops using their socks as bags to be filled with plastic explosive and then coated with axle grease so that it would "stick" to an enemy tank. However, real magnets were often used, and the "sock" was actually some woven fabric, when available, and rather than putting the bomb on the tracks of a tank directly, this would only disable its movement but still allow the tank to fire. The surface of a tank was often too hot to use axle grease, which was not always available; if it was, the grease would simply melt and the bomb would slide off. Furthermore, manually placing a sticky bomb coated with grease gave away one's position and was tactically dangerous, not because the fuse might run out before it could be placed properly as shown in the movie, but because tank commanders, before engaging in battle, could see troops running from buildings or their hiding positions. Traditionally, the sticky bomb was weighted with magnets and dropped from the height of a building, where not only could the one who placed the bomb be less easily seen, but because the bomb was designed to stick on the top of the tank or turret, where its armor was the weakest, and this had the effect of sending the shock wave down through the tank, which would be blown apart from the inside, killing the crew instantly. Plastic explosive was more commonly used than dynamite, as PE (Composition "B") is a fast explosive and more effective than slower-burning dynamite, which did work but had the effect of "cooking" the enemy tank crew instead of vaporizing them. In either manner, being on the wrong end of a sticky bomb was a gruesome, horrible way to die.
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According to the opening title card and the cross on a grave at the end of the movie, the events depicted take place between June 6-13, 1944.
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The film lost the Best Picture Academy Award to "Shakespeare in Love (1998)" due to that film's producers, Bob Weinstein and Harvey Weinstein, heavily lobbying for it. Nonetheless, "Saving Private Ryan" is the film most people remember from that time.
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Foley artist Jana Vance dislocated three ribs while lugging heavy gear and military boots for a scene's sound effects.
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The Omaha Beach scenes were shot in continuity and Steven Spielberg allowed the camera operators to be spontaneous with what they shot.
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After reading the dog tag with the name "Rienne", one soldier asks what it is and gets the response, 'It's nothing'. 'Rien' is French for 'nothing'," it gives more depth to the captain's later monologue: "I don't know anything about Ryan. I don't care. The man means nothing to me".
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Some viewers commonly mistake "Steamboat Willie" for the Waffen SS soldier who stabbed Mellish as (when it zooms out) he looks almost exactly like the soldier. Also, since Willie and this SS soldier wear the same clothes during the battle, they look similar from certain angles because of this. Another thing to note is that the soldier doesn't take his helmet with him when he leaves the house after killing Mellish and since Steamboat Willie isn't wearing one when he runs up to start shooting with the rest of his squad, this further contributes to the fact that some fans mix them up. Further difference can be seen when the SS soldier exited the house; he looked different than Steamboat Willie. One can further tell the difference between Willie and the SS soldier by the fact that Willie is wearing a Wehrmacht uniform tunic under the camouflage cover faint "Prussian"-type lines on his collar) while the SS soldier is wearing an SS tunic top identifiable by the SS emblems on his collars.
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In 2007 the American Film Institute ranked this as the #71 Greatest Movie of All Time. This was one of the newest entries on the list (from films which were released between 1997 and 2005).
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During the Omaha Beach sequence, Steven Spielberg employed three different perspectives: Capt. Miller's, the German machine gunners' and a characterless camera, resulting in over 200 shots in 24 minutes. This translates to each shot lasting approximately 7.2 seconds.
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Garth Brooks turned down the role of Pvt. Jackson.
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Final film of Kathleen Byron.
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Michael Bay once reflected on this film being one of several that he turned down: "I had gotten movie offers and turned them down. I took my time. They sent me 'Saving Private Ryan', but I wouldn't have known what to do with it." Bay would later direct the World War II movie Pearl Harbor (2001) and the contemporary war movie 13 Hours (2016).
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The movie features four actors who were also directors: Tom Hanks, Edward Burns, Adam Goldberg, and Vin Diesel.
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Features two actors who have played the role of Tom Ripley, protagonist of Patricia Highsmith's "'Ripliad" series, which consists of The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999) and its four sequels. Matt Damon played Ripley in that film, and Barry Pepper (Pvt. Jackson) played Ripley in Ripley Under Ground (2005), based on the second book.
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Barry Pepper is actually left-handed in real life just like the left-handed sniper he plays in the film.
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Joshua Jackson auditioned for the role of Wade.
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The events from Omaha Beach to the battle at Ramelle take place over the course of a week from June 6 to June 13 as indicated by the date on Capt. Miller's cross.
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One of three movies nominated for Best Picture in 1999 to take place during World War II, the other two being The Thin Red Line (1998) and Life Is Beautiful (1997). Coincidentally, the other two nominated movies (Shakespeare in Love (1998) and Elizabeth (1998)) both took place in the Elizabethan era.
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The second part of the film (Ryan's story) strongly resembles the German war film The Bridge (1959), in which a group of Hitler Youth defend a useless bridge against incoming enemy tanks. Some scenes even match in both films (such as the approaching tank shaking the ground as hidden soldiers watch in fear and anticipation).
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The "Bixby Letter", read by Gen. George C. Marshall at the end of the movie--which reads in art "The solemn pride that must be yours, to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom"--is inscribed below the statue of Columbia at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific located in Honolulu, HI.
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Clifton Collins Jr. was a finalist for the role of Upham.
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Pvt. Ryan is a paratrooper in the 101st Airborne Div. He refuses to go with Capt. Miller because he does not want to desert his post and leave his comrades behind. Band of Brothers (2001) came out a couple of years later and focused on the real men of the 101st. After seeing truly how deep the men cared for each other makes Ryan's refusal to leave his post all the more poignant.
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The first of three movies in which Matt Damon plays a character in need of being rescued. The others are Interstellar (2014) and The Martian (2015).
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A co-production of DreamWorks and Paramount Pictures, with DreamWorks handling the North American release and Paramount handling international distribution. The early releases of the film on video cassette, and Region 1 DVDs, were distributed by Universal, which had agreed to distribute DreamWorks releases on home video when the company was founded in 1994. In 2006 Viacom, Paramount's parent company, acquired DreamWorks and Paramount, and gained US/Canadian rights to the picture as a result. The film was one of seven DreamWorks/Paramount co-productions that became fully owned by the latter upon the merger of the two studios.
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Included among the American Film Institute's 2001 list of the top 100 Most Heart-Pounding American Movies.
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Christopher Eccleston turned down a role in the film.
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Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die," edited by Steven Schneider.
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Upham only fires his rifle once, which was a kill shot. While he was made into an ammo runner he did not fire any other weapons in the movie. This means Upham during the film has the best shooting record at 100% hit rate.
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At one point, a soldier calls for a 'Captain Hammer', literally two scenes before Nathan 'Captain Hammer' Fillion comes in as the wrong James Ryan.
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After taking the machine gun nest on their way to Ramelle, Pvt. Mellish is singing Billie Holiday's song, "Solitude." The lyrics are, "I sit in my chair, and full of despair."
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Max Allan Collins wrote a novelization about this movie that has Tom Hanks as the leading man. Years later, Hanks would play the lead in Collins' story adaptation of Road to Perdition (2002). Both films were produced by DreamWorks.
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At one point, a Senior medical officer is shot with the bullet going through his canteen, water starts to come out which turns into blood.
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Jackson uses two scopes (Ureti 8x scope on the left, M73B 2.5x scope on the right) and swaps between them regularly. This results in his Ureti 8x being 'unzeroed', which causes It to be inaccurate, resulting in Jackson missing a lot of his shots later on.
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When they visit the mother of the four soldiers, the camera pans over a photo of the brothers with a flag covering the face of the titular character, as to not reveal his identity.
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Jeremy Davies and Matt Damon share the same birthday October 8th, a year apart in age.
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The Omaha Beach scene, was depicted with so much accuracy to the actual event that the Department of Veteran Affairs set up a telephone hotline for traumatized veterans to cope.
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During the Omaha scene over 40 gallons of fake blood was used
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At the rally point a glider pilot points to a crashed glider that held a general and his jeep. The general had a heavy metal plate welded to the glider to the glider floor to protect he and his jeep from enemy fire that may have penetrated the aircraft. Unfortunately, the added weight of the metal plate overloaded the glider and it crashed as it landed, killing the general.
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Adam Goldberg previously appeared in "Dazed and Confused (1993)," as did Marissa Ribisi, the twin sister of Giovanni Ribisi.
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The only Best Picture Oscar nominee that year to be nominated for Best Sound Effects Editing.
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during the bridge battle a Tiger tank is seen covered in zimmerit, a defensive substance designed to prevent magnetic tank mines from attaching to the vehicle. It is ultimately unsuccessful, since the rangers used adhesive bombs.
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The recreation of the D Day landings were scheduled to be filmed at Horden Beach in County Durham and Northumbrian Water had agreed to reschedule their planned building work and allow the film unit to use their compound but then Steven Spielberg moved the production to Ireland.
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Dale Dye has a cameo where he talks about how the 101st Airborne has been scattered across Normandy. This is slightly hilarious as of Dye's role in Band of Brothers (2001), which covers the exploits of Easy Company in the 101st.
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Cameo 

Janusz Kaminski: The film's cinematographer appears as a documentary filmmaker.
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Director Trademark 

Steven Spielberg: [Fathers] In Neuville, a father pleads with the soldiers to take his kids with them. After being endangered by this, and then being reunited with her family, the daughter then slaps the father repeatedly for putting her at such risk.
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Spoilers 

The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

As the German soldier stabs Mellish to death, he says, "Gib' auf, du hast keine Chance! Lass' es uns beenden! Es ist einfacher für dich, viel einfacher. Du wirst sehen, es ist gleich vorbei." This translates to, "Give up, you don't stand a chance! Let's end this here! It will be easier for you, much easier. You'll see it will be over quickly." The words are spoken in accent-free German.
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During the ending sequence when Upham emerges from hiding, he speaks in German without subtitles. Roughly translated, he says, "Hands up!" and "Lay down your weapons!" several times. One of the Germans says, "I know this soldier. I know him. Upham responds, "Hold your snout!" The German soldier replies, "Upham," then after a pause, Upham shoots him. Then, to the rest of the soldiers, he says, "Scram! Vanish!"
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Body Count: 255.
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Out of the eight men sent to find Private Ryan, only two survive in the end: Private Richard Reiben (Edward Burns) and Corporal Timothy P. Upham (Jeremy Davies).
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An alternate ending was filmed in which Lt. Col. Anderson (Dennis Farina) arrives and sees Miller's dead body.
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Every single person who inherits Caparzo's letter up until the final battle dies. Caparzo himself (sniper), then Wade (mortal gunshot wound to abdomen) and Capt. Miller (mortal gunshot wounds sustained on the bridge). Pvt. Reiben takes it out of Miller's pocket after he dies and it's assumed that he lives and delivers it to Caparzo's father.
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Just after the scene where Capt. Miller "recruits" Upham for the mission, there is a short scene that shows the motor pool. For a few brief seconds, a Jeep with a small trailer rolls by. If you look carefully, you can see that the Jeep and trailer contain Miller and his men. The next scene shows Miller and the others walking through a meadow on foot with no vehicle in sight. This is due to the fact that the scene which shows how Miller and the men lose the Jeep was deleted from the final cut. Later in the film, Miller mentions something about losing "most of their ammo." This occurred when they lost the Jeep.
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The script went through over ten revisions, changing many things from the original draft. The list of changes (1) Mellish and Capaazo did not exist in the original draft. As a result, the famous sniper scene and the grueling stabbing of Mellish didn't exist, either. (2) Capt. Miller's character was very one-dimensional--a tough-as-nails, by-the-book officer., a far cry from the final version that humanized him very well. (3) "Steamboat Willie" did not exist. (4) Upham is killed in the original draft, during the final battle. (5) Capt. Miller survives the final battle. The film ends with Miller telling Ryan about the lives of the men who died trying to find him. It is also revealed that Jackson was a preacher from Tennessee. (6) in a later revision, Mellish and Caparzo are included, but Mellish is gunned down instead of being stabbed to death.
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Caparzo tells Upham "to drop dead and every time you salute the captain you make him a target for the Germans" and not to salute Miller when he (Caparzo) is standing next to him. Ironically, Caparzo is the first to die, standing right next to Captain Miller by a German sniper after arguing about taking children to the next town.
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The scene where Capt. Miller (Tom Hanks) is firing his Colt 1911 at the tank coming across the bridge, is said to be the inspiration behind Activision's video game "Call of Duty Perk Final Stand", in which after receiving lethal damage, a character would fall onto his or her back, and pull out the same weapon to fire at opponents before dying.
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According to the script, the German soldier who Upham shoots at the end of the film is indeed "Steamboat Willie," thus teaching Upham a lesson about compassion for the enemy during war.
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In the opening scene we see an old man visiting the cemetery in Normandy, and the scene ends with the camera zooming into his eyes. In the next scene, we see Capt. Miller's helmet, assuming that this was the old man on the cemetery. However, if you look closer at the first scene, you will see that the old man has a small 101st Airborne button in his shirt, distinguishing him from Miller's unit.
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In the last scene, where old Ryan is in the cemetery, there is a tomb behind Miller's, with a black mark on it. It is a reference to Jackson, who had a black mark on one of his fingers.
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The Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial is featured in the beginning of the film. A World War II veteran, accompanied by his family, makes his way to the grave of Capt. John Miller (Tom Hanks) and segues into the movie's opening battle sequence, the D-Day landing at Omaha Beach. The grave does not actually exist; the headstone for Miller was only brought to the cemetery for the movie. The Capt. John Miller portrayed in the movie never existed either, but the Pvt. Ryan story is based upon the story of the Niland Brothers, two of whom are buried in the cemetery.
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In Max Allan Collins's novelization of the screenplay, Ryan calls his wife "Alice" in the final scene in the cemetery. This suggests that after going home to Iowa, Ryan may have ended up marrying his brother Danny's girlfriend Alice Jardine, the girl who "took a nosedive from the ugly tree and hit every branch coming down."
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There is also a novel to this film by Max Allan Collins. In it, Pvt. Reiben gives Cp;l Upham the nickname "Upchuck" and the German sniper who kills Pvt. Caparzo is named Wolfgang Gottberg.
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When Miller spares Steamboat Willie, he states to his men about his justified merciful act by saying, "Just know that every man I kill, the farther away from home I feel.", foreshadows his death at the end when Steamboat Willie kills him.
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In the narrative behind why the German soldier didn't kill Upham after killing Mellish, the soldier saw that Upham was shocked and sobbing, and Upham even took his hand off his rifle to show that he wasn't intending to attack the soldier. So the German decided he was not going to hurt Upham, and even glances back to make sure he wouldn't do anything. This also shows that the Germans weren't monsters but just soldiers. Upham posed no threat to the German soldier and so he didn't feel it necessary to kill him. It is also likely that the solder realized that Upham could have killed him if he had been courageous enough to intervene in the fight in which Mellish died and, since he was a coward, he was ashamed to kill him.
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The Hitler Youth knife that Caparzo gives Mellish is the very same knife that Mellish gets killed with near the end.
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Horvath explains to Miller about staying and defending Ramelle "and by some miracle we actually make it out earning us all the right to go home", ironically foreshadows what happens to himself, Miller, Mellish and Jackson who are all killed defending Ramelle.
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In Neuville, Wade the medic sadly tells a story about how his mother would return early from work and sometimes he would pretend to be asleep to avoid talking to her. As he lies dying after taking the machine gun nest, his final word is "Mama."
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Despite being the movie's main subject, Private Ryan (Matt Damon) doesn't appear until over an hour and 45 minutes into the movie.
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During the final battle in Ramelle when Reiben gets on the "rabbit" for the Germans to chase, Horvath tells him, "Good luck, Reiben", to which Reiben replies, "I don't need any luck, Sarge. I was born lucky"--ironic, as Horvath is killed near the end of the battle and Reiben survives.
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When Upham pleads for Steamboat Willie's life after Willie kills Wade during the attack on the machine-gun nest. He succeeds, but ironically it Upham himself who kill Willie in the final German attack on the town.
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When Capt. Miller is explaining at the radar site how finding Ryan "gives me the right to go home to my wife, that's my mission" is rather sad irony as he's killed by "Steamboat Willi"e the German POW, he set free to turn himself into the next American patrol he comes across and whom he showed so much mercy to, thus not letting him go home to his wife.
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Capt. Miller's team runs into the first, wrong Pvt. Ryan one hour into the movie, and finally finds the right Ryan one hour before the end.
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