Cinema and TV series

Hotline named Rescue Private Ryan: How a Hollywood film helped veterans start talking about war

A small story about the cultural impact of the painting on people who have passed through the war, to the anniversary of the landing in Normandy.

Landing in Normandy in “Saving Private Ryan”

The modern movie-goer will hardly call the most popular and cult film about the landing in Normandy, than “Save Private Ryan”. The epic of the rescue of the American soldier from the European front received five Oscars and many awards from the smaller division, and in 2014 it was added to the US National Film Registry . The picture is still considered one of the best works of director Steven Spielberg.

When the film just came out in the USA, the scene of the landing in Normandy, which opened the picture, struck the audience. The 24-minute passage seemed to be indistinguishable from documentary records, causing fear, disgust, or shock among viewers. The veterans of the hostilities did not stay aside – many of them were so impressed by the film that the Ministry of Veterans Affairs had to create a special hotline. For some, it became an opportunity for the first time to share their impressions of the war.

“I think many will take this picture hard,” said Deborah Richter, a doctor who worked with war veterans, in 1998. – “John Wayne (American actor, known for his participation in patriotic war films – .) Participated in various films, revealing the experience of the Second World War, but not as detailed as this film. This is a completely different look at pain, suffering and real killings. ”

Richter was not mistaken in one thing – veterans hardly watched “Save Private Ryan”, which was radically different from the early Hollywood films about the Second World War. It was largely a pathetic and patriotic film, where the famous John Wayne looked like a brave, strong and loyal soldier of his country. This image got so stuck that it was often made fun of in the darker author’s pictures about the war – for example, in the “Full Metal Jacket”.

The start of the landing in Normandy in “Saving Private Ryan”

Of course, long before “Ryan” in the USA, various films about the hard side of the war came out, including “Platoon”, “The Deer Hunter” and “Apocalypse Today”. But among the military epics, the picture of Spielberg became the most massive and profitable – the total fees of the picture exceeded 450 million dollars.

However, as they wrote in the Los Angeles Times, the film’s main cultural footprint is not in the money it earned and in the mass, but in the conversations he launched. After leaving the cinema, the 51-year-old resident of South Carolina sent two letters of thanks to friends of World War II veterans. A 45-year-old consultant from Arizona shared her story as she discussed the war in line at the store.

Steven Spielberg and actor Tom Hanks on the set of “Rescue Private Ryan” Photo by HBO

“My grandfather survived the landing in Normandy. Now I understand why he always remained silent about their experiences and how received four bronze medals for bravery “- quoted the LA Times a viewer. Another man shared a similar experience, admitting that he first realized the secrecy of his veteran father. “We boomers (people born between 1946 and 1964 – ) do not even suspect how lucky we are. Thank you dad”.

“You are eager to discuss the film,” said Paul Rich, a 43-year-old Hollywood screenwriter, who, after watching, called his uncle, a member of the Ardennes operation.

Spielberg himself admitted that he dedicated the film to veterans, and was very pleased with the audience reaction. But for veterans it was a much more difficult experience. In the first two weeks of rental, the hotline for war veterans was called by more than 100 people who looked at “Save Private Ryan.” They shared their memories of the battles they had with the psychologists at the other end of the line, as if they had done it for the first time.

A veteran of the Vietnam War, Richard White said that he sobbed while watching against the will. “I was very ashamed, I did not want to be in such a good mood, but I could not help it. You felt the horror, “- shared his man.

In the wake of the hype, someone took the children to the film to give them the opportunity to see the realities of war. A 45-year-old Arizona resident described how she first went to the movies with her brother, and then with her 15-year-old daughter. The girl cried most of the film, but the woman felt that she did the right thing. “I decided that a 15-year-old teenager should know what sacrifices people made for the sake of freedom. Real people, with girls, wives, and dreams, like today’s teenagers, ”the woman explained.

The film begins and ends with our days when an elderly veteran visits the graves of fallen colleagues.

According to the clinical psychologist Bill Weitz, the film was most emotionally awakened by veterans of the Second World War. They were born and grew up during the Great Depression, when hunger and poverty taught them not to complain and always look staunch. Something similar happened after returning from the front – at home they were greeted as heroes, a model of patriotism, and in this image there was no place for a story about the war, he said.

Soldier 101st Airborne Division, Dick Winters said that “Ryan” finally gave people the opportunity to understand how veterans feel. According to an elderly man, in 1998 he sent out more than 100 letters to his friends with the advice of watching a movie.

“It’s hard to talk to someone who wasn’t there. These are not just memories. They don’t even know what to ask. I think [thanks to the film] they will feel it. After watching, they will understand why, after returning from the war, I insisted on buying a farm for the sake of peace and quiet, ”said an elderly man.

On June 5, 2019, journalist Ben Mankiewicz released a large column on how “Saving Private Ryan” gave him the opportunity to speak frankly for the first time with his father in World War II. The veteran described the picture as “The most accurate description of the battles he had ever seen in a movie.”

On instructions from the authorities, Mankiewicz himself watched a picture with two veterans – one went through World War II and the other went to the war in Vietnam. Both of them had never seen each other before, but after the final credits they shared experiences that they had never before told about and burst into tears.

When they finished [the stories], they hugged and cried. A Vietnamese veteran promised to go home and share his stories with teenage daughters with whom he never discussed the war. Even if in the end he did not do this (I will never know), it was overwhelming to watch such a reaction.
Ben Mankiewiczamerican journalist

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