Saving Private Ryan

Memorable Movies

  • The movie “Saving Private Ryan” is based on the real-life Niland brothers, four siblings who all served during World War II. Three of the brothers were supposedly killed in action, which caused their remaining brother to be shipped back to America so that the Niland family wouldn’t lose all of their sons. One of the sons thought to be dead later escaped from a prison camp and returned home, so the Niland family only lost two sons.
  • In the film, a team of eight men (led by Tom Hanks’ character) are sent to rescue one soldier (played by Matt Damon), because all of his brothers had been killed during the D-Day invasion and he was the family’s sole surviving son. In the movie, six members of the team are killed on the mission, but they do manage save Private Ryan.
  • The film’s opening scene, which depicts the landing at Omaha Beach, is said to be the most accurate portrayal of D-Day ever screened.
  • Because they were not allowed to film on the actual beaches in Normandy, director Steven Spielberg found a very similar beach in Ireland and filmed there instead.
  • Over 2,500 Irish Reserve Army troops were recruited to portray the Allied forces storming the beach. Local reenactment groups were also employed as extras. The D-Day sequence took four weeks to film and hogged 15% of the film’s entire budget. The entire film was shot in 59 days.
  • About 30 amputees were hired for realistic shots of soldiers having their limbs blown off. They used 40 barrels of fake blood.
  • Designers originally intended to use actual uniforms from World War II but found they were difficult to find, expensive, and fragile. Instead, some 3,500 custom-made military uniforms were created.
  • The scenes that take place in the ruins of a bombed-out French city were built from scratch inside the Hatfield Aerodrome at a defunct airbase outside London. It took four months to build the set. Crews hauled in tons of rubble from construction sites and dumped it on the set for an air of authenticity.
  • For the D-Day sequence, 2,000 weapons were created. Of those, 500 could shoot blanks while 1,500 were rubber replicas.
  • Gunfire sound effects were recorded from actual gunfire with live ammunition fired from authentic period weapons, recorded at a live fire machine gun range. Most of the bullet hits in the Omaha Beach battle were digitally created.
  • On D-Day, the anti-landing obstacles made out of long poles were designed to be angled towards the beach. In the movie’s D-Day landing sequence, these anti-tank obstacles were mistakenly placed facing the wrong direction, facing away from the beach.
  • Steven Spielberg lowered the color saturation of the movie by 60% so the film had a sepia-toned effect. Some cable companies were inundated with complaints about the coloration when they aired the film, when people complained there was something wrong, so they cranked up the color saturation.
  • When Matt Damon was cast as Private Ryan, it was because Spielberg wanted a relatively unknown actor at the time. This backfired when “Good Will Hunting” made Damon an overnight star shortly before this movie was released.
  • It was the highest grossing movie of 1998. It won five Oscars at the Academy Awards.
  • In 2006, Tom Hanks was inducted into the U.S. Army’s Ranger Hall of Fame as an honorary member due to his portrayal of Capt. John Miller.
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