There are spoilers from “Saving Private Ryan” in this article.

Stephen Spielberg has been regarded as one of the greatest directors of all time–so much so, that it can be tiresome to hear and almost uncool to like him because he’s so popular. His attention to detail is not only fascinating, but it is indicative of the amount of passion he puts into his films. “Saving Private Ryan” is one of his greatest achievements, and is lauded as one of the greatest war films of all time. Here are a few interesting tidbits that you may not have noticed.

  1. This is the famous one: the surrendering soldiers near the end of the Normandy scene are not speaking German, they’re speaking Czech. They cry out to the American soldiers, “Please don’t shoot me! I am not German, I am Czech, I didn’t kill anyone! I am Czech!”
    This is the type of stuff that really hammers in the brutality of war, especially one that engulfed the entire world.
  2. Throughout the movie, you generally assume the old man is Tom Hanks’ Captain Miller–after all, the first transition from modern-day to WWII is a fade from the old man’s face to Cpt. Miller. However, there’s a clue as to his identity from the very beginning. In the opening scene to the entire movie, he’s wearing a 101st Airborne pin which is the same unit Private Ryan is in during the movie. Cpt. Miller and the rest of his crew are all Rangers, from 2nd Ranger Battalion.
  3. Anyone I’ve ever known to get shot (on my side anyway) didn’t know they were shot at the time until something stopped functioning, they saw/felt blood or someone else noticed they were bleeding. When the bullets start flying and your adrenaline kicks in, pain just doesn’t seem to register (though I’ve never been shot myself).
    In this scene, keep an eye on the medic on the left. He takes a round through the canteen and into the hip, and the pouring water turns to blood. When making a movie, this is something they would have had to specifically set up, and putting the time and effort to rig the water and blood meant they would have told the actor how to react (or how not to). Spielberg must have told him not to react when shot, reflecting the sheer intensity of a battle like this.

This is the level of detail that not only makes “Saving Private Ryan” interesting, but it just goes to show how much heart Spielberg put into the movie. I think many veterans would agree when I say that I appreciate that level of dedication, as the subject of war is not something to be taken lightly–even when it comes to the little details.

Images and video courtesy of Paramount Pictures.