Saving Private Essay

More to the point, why should the men of Miller's unit be sacrificed so that Ryan can be saved?

The Individual Perspective The perspective of the soldier as an individual might well be called the perspective of the soldier as a civilian.

(When I speak of the "individual" I do not mean that term in a narrow sense, one which prescinds from all family connections, but in a broad sense, which places the person in the context of his family and home.) The men in Captain Miller's unit identify themselves with their pre-military lives, with who they were "back home." We see this repeatedly in the film: they evoke the image of home to explain themselves to others.

Third, there is the perspective of the soldier as member of a nation-state.

Second, there is the perspective of the soldier as member of a small unit in combat, dependent for his survival on cooperation with his fellow soldiers.

Less often appreciated is the film's sustained discussion of the morality of war.

-- RHT teven Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan has been justly praised as the most realistic portrait of combat on film.Their best chance of returning home to their civilian lives is cooperating with the other members of their unit in prosecuting the war. In response to Reiben's mutiny he begins by revealing, for the first time, his civilian identity as a schoolteacher from Pennsylvania. then that's my mission." But the two perspectives are not fully compatible. It divides the world into two camps: friend and foe.His justification for seeking Ryan is that "if going to Reméal, and finding him so he can go home, if that earns me the right to get back to my wife, well then . Miller worries that serving in a combat unit in wartime may have made him no longer fit for civilian life: "Sometimes I wonder if I've changed so much, my wife is even gonna recognize me whenever it is I get back to her . The only true friends one has are the members of one's own unit.Befriending an enemy soldier, as Corporal Upham appears to do with the German prisoner, is an affront to the morality of the combat unit. The combat soldier is forbidden by practical necessity from extending any sympathy to the enemy.Acts that seem atrocities are justified by the hatred that is invoked in combat by the enemy's willingness to commit similar acts against one's companions.These frameworks are related to each other in complex ways.They support each other, but they also conflict with each other, as I hope to show. In this essay I examine Spielberg's film, focusing on the relations among the several moral perspectives presented in it. This aspect of the film is even more important, in my view, than the film's realism.It is part of Spielberg's genius as a filmmaker that the acts of reprisal against the Germans on the beach seem fully in order to the viewer after only 15 minutes of cinematic violence against the invaders.It is astonishing how fast one can become a partisan.


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