The majority of the extras in the movie were from the Irish Army and the F.C.A. (a military organisation). Direct from one of these extras: in the opening scenes where the soldiers are in the boats before landing at the French beach against German defenders, the soldiers puke their guts out, and we all see this. What you don't know is that it was REAL vomit you see - it was caught on camera perfectly and it was kept. See more...
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Continuity: In the scene in the Pentagon between several officers and General Marshall, when the camera pans over Marshall's left shoulder towards the officers, you can see that the colonel, who was missing his left arm in earlier scenes, has it again; it's missing again in the next shot. It may be just that his sleeve's rolled down in the middle shot, but that's still an error.
Factual error: The Tiger tanks portrayed in the movie are actually Soviet T-34s. You could tell by looking at their wheels. Real Tigers had interleaved wheels. These Tigers had the T-34 suspension. Obviously, Tigers were so rare that another tank had to be substituted. But an excellent job was done to make the T-34s look like Tigers.
Revealing: In the scene where the medic gets shot, watch the shot where Upham brings the bags up to the injured medic. The next shot there is some fog which then reveals the injured medic. In this shot, watch carefully as the cast rips away the medic's shirt. If you look near the neck, you can see the fake stomach vest he is wearing for a split second - when the actor realizes he ripped too far up, he quickly covers it back up.
Continuity: When they go to find Private Ryan there are eight of them, when they go to a French town and a solider picks up the little girl and he gets killed there are seven, right? Wrong. A few scenes later, the camera shows all eight of them marching on to the next town, only in a far away camera shot so it's hard to see.
Revealing: Just before the two American soldiers slap their grease coated "sticky bombs" on the passing German Tiger tank, you can clearly see two identically shaped grease stains on the first two wheels. Presumably nobody remembered to wipe off the wheels of the tank after a rehearsal or previous take of the scene.
Continuity: When Miller is collecting Upham from the group of translators and map readers, Upham is so confused and clumsy that he knocks everything off the table onto the floor (e.g. typewriter and helmets). Told by Miller to leave everything except his helmet, Upham picks up a German one by mistake. When sent back to the table to get his own, everything has miraculously jumped off the floor back onto the table.
Continuity: When Jackson has been given the dog tags to search through he looks for a place to sit. In this scene you see a black box with two yellow boxes at either side in the background. In the next scene the yellow box on the left has magically jumped up onto the black box in order for Jackson to kick it off and sit on it.
Continuity: At the start of the film in the telegraph scene, a Captain goes into the Colonel's office to tell him about the Ryan brothers. He is holding a folder which he puts on the Colonel's desk, but we don't see him pick it back up in all the following shots, yet it suddenly appears back in his hands.
Factual error: In the end scene, after the final battle, Reiben is seen calling for a medic to assist Miller. When he gets up to go and find a medic, he picks up his BAR by the barrel. Having just fought in a fairly long action with a high rate of fire, his BAR barrel would be far too hot to touch, let alone pick the rifle up by. It would take 15 or 20 mins for it to cool down enough to handle. He should have picked it up by the foregrip (The wooden bit under the barrel).
Factual error: In the scene where the American troops are storming the German radar station, you can see a few dead cows with oversized bellies provoked by putrefaction, which means that they were killed at least 12 hours ago. When one of the cows receives a bullet, you can see highly-oxigenated fully arterial red blood spurting from the wound, something impossible to happens in a dead body. Blood at this time of death should be nearly black or brown.