Different Depictions Of War-Saving Private Ryan And The Patriot Different Depictions of War Moviemakers have the power to portray the world the way they see it. And because there are so many different directors out there, we as viewers, are presented with a variety of interpretations. If a director sees love as a game, then it is so (at least until their hour and 45-minute tale of two playful lovers comes to an end). If he or she believes society to be corrupt then we will see it as such on her or his recorded picture of the world. And if one director thinks of war as completely disastrous while another sees glory in it then we would find ourselves viewing two contrasting depictions of war.Two recent films that exemplify this circumstance are Steven Speilbergs Saving Private Ryan and Roland Emmerichs The Patriot.
Both movies are about an historic war, both were made around the same time, and yet both create an entirely different image of war. With the use of dramatic, literary, and cinematic aspects, Speilberg and Emmerich present their opinions, as well as emotions, on the screen. Ryan takes place during World War II. Captain Miller (Tom Hanks) is given a mission to save Private James Ryan (Matt Damon), whose three brothers were killed in action. The Patriot is the story of a father of seven and veteran of the French and Indian War.
Although he shows disapproval of the current American Revolution, personal vengeance makes him a hero in the war. Although the screenplay could account for a films viewpoint, it is the directing that creates the visual picture. Ironically, Both Ryan and The Patriot were written by the same man, Robert Rodat. This further supports the idea that the directors opinion on a topic is evident in her or his film, no matter what the screenwriters thoughts may be. Not to mention the fact that a the director usually chooses a script that suits them.
Therefor, literary elements reflect the directors perspective.The setting in Ryans opening scene is a veteran cemetery where we are immediately reminded of the result of war: death. The second scene takes place on Omaha Beach, the battlefield of the tragic D-Day.
Right off, we are shown that thousands died in World War II as well as what it was like. We hear soldiers praying for their lives and others praying for an accurate shot to end the life of another. Speilberg does not hesitate to plunge into the reality that in war one is either killing or dying. In The Patriot our story begins quite differently.We are first introduced to our protagonist, Benjamin (Mel Gibson), in his home as he comically fails to build a rocking chair.
Like Ryan, we are introduced to the main focus of the film, but unlike Ryan, the focus is a character not a war. In addition, The Patriots main character is first presented as a father and carpenter, while we first meet Captain Miller (Tom Hanks) already involved in the war. The difference between these films is that one uses characters to tell the story of a war, while the other uses a war to tell the story of a character.
Characters are major literary elements and they, alone, illustrate the intent of each film. The British (bad guys) in The Patriot are either sinister or ignorant, while the Americans (good guys) are either brave and witty or braver and heroic.The definite line between good and evil encourages us to root for the spunky Americans.
Ryan, on the other hand, makes an effort to portray its characters as realistic as possible. The soldiers are ordinary guys some likable, some not, most relatable, all believable. While Benjamin The Ghost Martin is invincible, Miller, with his shaky hand, is homesick and tired.
Take Corporal Upham (Jeremy Davies), for example. Upham, without a doubt, sees the war as we see it, as Speilberg sees it, as it is.The comfort he finds in talking to others to the fear he feels about the chaos as he asks himself, What is happening? are all reactions that an everyday civilian would have to the war.
In The Patriot we do not have that character to relate to. Everyone is too heroic to hide. As soldiers enthusiastically slay bad guy after bad guy we understand that they are destined to win, but in Ryan we come to learn that you survive by mere chance. In Ryan there is one word that accurately describes the dramatic elements and it is gory. The bloody waves at Omaha, the sudden, messy deaths, the slow, agonizing deaths, and the puking, crying, bleeding, gut spilling, armless, legless, lifeless soldiers are Speilbergs constant reminders of the inescapable tragedies of war. Emmerich, however, has his actors die with a scream or groan and then its on to the next. Unless, of course, its a principal thats dying.
Then the death must be drawn out.The scenes following the battle also differ with the movie. Once The Patriot soldiers are at their base camp its almost as if the war is on pause. The atmosphere is actually cheery as the actors have their characters enjoy time-out from The American Revolution. In Ryan we hardly reach this giddy mood.
When the soldiers are not fighting Speilberg creates a thick atmosphere of tension. The actors subtly play their characters with the feeling of anticipation.Unlike in The Patriot, we never feel at ease. Lastly are the cinematic elements, which Steven Speilberg is inhumanly gifted with.
Throughout Ryan Speilberg keeps the camera on a dolly to create boom movement. This effect makes it seem as though we are one of the soldiers walking among the troops, which intensifies the battle scenes and keeps us on our toes throughout the movie. During the more mellow scenes, for instance during Ryans (Damon) speech, the camera stays on a fixed base allowing us to feel less anxious. The Patriots cinematography is typical. It consists of a variety of methods such as, zoom in to close up during Gabriels (Heath Edgar) death, cut editing with short duration shots during battle scenes, nothing unique.Emmerich was, however, creative with the lighting. After tragic scenes, such as Thomas and Gabriels death, and when we find out what Martins sins were, he uses blue lighting.
There is not really much depth to this idea and it is somewhat Hollywoodish, but the symbolism works. Spielberg seemed to avoid this simple symbolism due to its cheesiness (for lack of a better word). He did not want his viewers to be watching a movie, he wanted them to be watching a war.That is where Spielberg and Emmerich differ the most; their intentions. Emmerich was not so much as interested in recreating the American Revolution as he was in releasing a summer action movie.
For an action movie The Patriot has a decent story line, but for a historical drama it was just too shallow. However it is harsh to judge the believability of a movie when comparing it to Saving Private Ryan. Never have I seen a war movie so disturbing. When I see that high angle of Omaha Beach littered with bodies, it makes me wonder what it was all for. This is where Spielberg succeeds. By recreating World War II so realistically, his viewers see what he saw from the beginning: the inexcusable deaths of so many men, and the insanity of the war that they died for.