SAVING PRIVATE RYAN
Contributing to the heightened sense of realism, Spielberg took an almost documentarian approach to filming "Saving Private Ryan
Contributing to the heightened sense of realism, Spielberg took
an almost documentarian approach to filming "Saving Private
Ryan." He did not do any storyboarding prior to shooting,
and used hand-held cameras much of the time. In that way, I was
able to hit the sets much like a newsreel cameraman following
soldiers into war," he offers.
To achieve a tone and quality that was not only true to the story,
but reflected the period in which it is set, Spielberg once again
collaborated with director of photography Janusz Kaminski. "Early
on, we both knew that we did not want this to look like a technicolor
extravaganza about World War II, but more like color newsreel
footage from the 1940s, which is very desaturated and low-tech,"
Kaminski had the protective coating stripped from the camera lenses,
making them closer to those used in the 40s. "Without the
protective coating, the light goes in and starts bouncing around,
which makes it slightly more diffused and a bit softer without
being out of focus," he explains. The cinematographer completed
the overall effect by putting the negative through an additional
process that extracted more of the color.
Another camera technique they applied was using 90-degree shutters,
or even 45-degree shutters for many of the battle sequences, as
opposed to today's standard of 180-degree shutters. Kaminski clarifies,
"In this way, we attained a certain staccato in the actors
movements and a certain crispness in the explosions, which makes
them slightly more realistic."
Spielberg was unflinching in his desire to depict the Omaha landinq
as it really happened. "Omaha Beach was a slaughter,"
the director recounts. "It was a complete foul-up: from the
expeditionary forces, to the reconnaissance forces, to the saturation
bombing that missed most of its primary targets. Given that, I
didn't want to glamorize it, so I tried to be as brutally honest
as I could."
After all the planning, preparations and rehearsals, the attention
to authenticity down to the last detail worked its own magic.
When Spielberg called "Action," the cast could not help
but feel transported from a movie set to an event half a century
"The adrenaline rush was like nothing I had ever experienced
on any other movie, because it was chaos as soon as you stepped
out there," Torn Hanks remembers. "There were people
falling and explosions going off around you, and it was not hard
to imagine that the carnage was real, that it was caused by bullets
and mortars and shells. There's terror in our eyes in some of
those scenes, and rightly so, because we were genuinely scared
we knew that it was all fake."
Edward Burns adds, "I'm really glad we shot the D-Day invasion
at the beginning of the schedule because it changed the way we
looked at every scene that followed it. Nobody was prepared for
how horrific it really was, and you really got a sense of what
those guys went through."
"Being out there that day on the Irish Sea in those boats
gave me a sensation of what it must have been like for those men,"
Barry Pepper recalls. "My mind started to wander and I began
to think about how afraid they must have been. They were so tired
and soaking wet, and then they stepped off the boats and saw their
pals dying all around them, and all they could do was crawl up
"The miracle of D-Day was mat in the chaos of the in
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