Saving Private Ryan is a 1998 American war film set during the invasion of Normandy in World War II. It was directed by Steven Spielberg and written by Robert Rodat. Rodat first came up with the film’s story in 1994 when he saw a monument dedicated to four sons of Agnes Allison of Port Carbon, Pennsylvania. The brothers were killed in the American Civil War. Rodat decided to write a similar story set during World War II. The script was submitted to producer Mark Gordon, who then handed it to Hanks. It was finally given to Spielberg, who decided to direct. The film’s premise is very loosely based on the real-life case of the Niland brothers.
The film is notable for the intensity of its opening 27 minutes, which depict the Omaha beachhead assault of June 6th, 1944. It contains intense prolonged realistically graphic sequences of war violence, and explicit language all throughout the film.
Afterwards, it follows Tom Hanks as Captain John H. Miller and several men (Tom Sizemore, Edward Burns, Barry Pepper, Vin Diesel, Giovanni Ribisi, Adam Goldberg, and Jeremy Davies) as they search for paratrooper Private James Francis Ryan (Matt Damon), who is the last surviving brother of three fallen servicemen. Government policy dictates that he should return home lest his family be deprived of all its male offspring.
The Germans arrive in force with more than 50 men supported by armor. In spite of inflicting heavy German casualties, most of the paratroopers, and Miller’s squad (Jackson, Mellish and Horvath), are killed. While attempting to blow the bridge, Miller is shot and fatally wounded. Just before a Tiger Tank reaches the bridge, an American P-51 Mustang flies over and destroys it, followed by more Mustangs and advancing American infantry and M4 Sherman tanks who rout the remaining Germans. Upham executes “Steamboat Willie” upon finding him with a group of surrendering Germans. Ryan, Reiben, and Upham are the only survivors of the battle. Ryan is with Miller as he dies and says his last words, “James… earn this. Earn it.”