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Combat Footage
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," Spielberg says.

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 past.

"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…and 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 those beaches."

"The miracle of D-Day was mat in the chaos of the in

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