What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this is Steven Spielberg's most violent film, especially in the opening 25-minute D-Day invasion massacres. There's no sugar-coating, no "cartoon violence," no nameless, inconsequential casualties like LucasFilm Imperial Stormtroopers. This is unrestrained, ugly, and dirty combat, meant to make the viewer appreciate the monstrous human cost and tragic sacrifice of the Allied beachhead -- a price mostly paid by young men. Stunned, vengeful U.S. soldiers are seen committing what would be considered atrocities (shooting surrendering Germans, as well as innocent non-Germans who can't speak English). Even though characters are religious -- one prays fervently before killing with his sniper skills -- everyone swears a lot, too. Some "special editions" carry supplementary documentary material, including clips of Steven Spielberg's own 8mm war movies he made as a kid.
- Families can talk about the D-Day invasion, and especially the troop makeup of WWII -- a lot of fighting and dying was done by soldiers who were hardly more than boys. The behavior of characters under fire includes cowardice and vicious homicide, unleashed even at surrendering enemy. Do you think those man can be excused for such a breakdown of discipline? What about soldiers in the field today? Was the mission to save Ryan worth the risk after all? What other war movies and documentaries have you seen? Do they seem true to life? How about the coverage you see in the news? Is it balanced? How would you be able to tell?