Anything starring Tom Hanks is guaranteed to garner a considerable amount of attention, and after being added to Netflix recently, Saving Private Ryan is now dominating the streaming service, showing up on the Top 10 most-watched movies chart.
Steven Spielberg’s 1998 war epic casts Hanks as the captain of a ranger battalion in the Second World War, sent to Normandy as part of the launch of the Allied invasion of Nazi-occupied Western Europe. After three of four brothers are killed in action within a day of each other, the surviving sibling is ordered to be located and sent home, with Hank’s Captain Miller to lead his unit on the search.
Prior to the main plot even getting underway, after a short prologue, the movie opens with a now-legendary 24-minute sequence of the D-Day landing at Omaha Beach. It’s renowned as one of the most graphically intense scenes in cinematic history, and was so realistic in depicting the reality of war that it triggered PTSD in many veterans.
Spielberg’s fascination with World War II is evident in many of his works, but none portray the conflict to such an unflinching extreme. Yes, the story is very US-centric and ignores the multinational collaboration that allowed Operation Overlord to be pulled off, but sometimes historical accuracy needs to be sacrificed on the altar of storytelling, and in doing so the film manages to tell a personal tale amidst a vast and sprawling military campaign.
Its release was a resounding success, too, meeting almost unanimous acclaim from critics and audiences alike and raking in close to $500 million at the box office. It also received a slew of accolades from all over the world, including winning five Academy Awards, one of which was Spielberg’s second Best Director win, as well as being nominated for half a dozen more.
If for whatever reason you’ve never checked out Saving Private Ryan, few films will come as highly recommended by so many people, and even those not especially enamored with tales of war or Tom Hanks will find themselves pulled in, as evidenced by its strong performance on Netflix.