Continuity mistake: The scene where they are looking for Ryan's dog tag. Doc comments they are laughing in front of all the guys walking by. One of the soldiers looks like Sal Mineo. Frustrated, Tom Hanks walks into the line of soldiers and civilians and starts asking if anybody has seen or knows James Ryan. The same Sal Mineo lookalike walks by him again. (01:15:10)
Continuity mistake: When they go to find Private Ryan there are eight of them, when they go to a French town and Caparzo 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. (01:23:11)
Revealing mistake: When Wade 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 realises he ripped too far up, he quickly covers it back up. (01:28:43)
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 are so rare (only one operational Tiger left) that another tank had to be substituted. But an excellent job was done to make the T-34s look like Tigers.
Revealing mistake: In the opening sequence Cpt Miller is wading through the sea with another man. You can see an odd looking square-shaped object clearly through his wet uniform. It may come as no surprise that a second later he is shot dead centre of the pocket. The object was obviously a charge. (00:07:45)
Revealing mistake: 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.
Factual error: After the soldiers' initial disembarkment they are shown crouching in groups near the shore and later running towards the bunkers. Unlike the movie shows, anything even as simple as crouching behind the tank traps, let alone actually standing up and running, was impossible at Dog Green Sector and indeed for anyone when pinned down by a machine gun from a high far-away position. In the real-life landing at Dog Green within 7-10 minutes all the officers of the landing company were dead and the survivors inert. They could do nothing except throw away all their equipment and slowly crawl up the beach, shielded from bullets by the incoming tide and dead bodies. 1 hour 40 minutes after landing twelve (known) survivors made it to the base of the cliffs. Only 2 had enough strength left to go on and fight with another group. (The second wave, apart from one boat which was almost entirely killed, opted to land elsewhere when they saw the fate of the first wave.) In this way the movie rather poorly represents what it meant to make a properly opposed landing on D-Day - although whether this is justified or not is another matter. (00:07:00 - 00:07:40)
Continuity mistake: 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. (00:40:30)
Revealing mistake: 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 with no problem. 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.
Revealing mistake: In the scene where the American soldiers are in the village listening to the French music on the record player, take a look at the stone pillars at either side of the doorway. The bullet patterns are all the same on each stone block. No doubt the same mould was used. (01:56:00)
Continuity mistake: 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. (01:17:45)
Factual error: In the scene where the Americans are fighting the Germans in Remelle, there are two Tiger 1 tanks. In reality, there were no Tiger tanks on the American front in Normandy. All Tigers in Normandy were placed on the British and Canadian front south of Caen.
Revealing mistake: In the Omaha Beach fight when the soldiers are ordered to gather more weapons and ammo, there is a massive explosion shortly after - if you look closely you can see the wires used to pull the unfortunate victims into the air. (00:16:25)
Continuity mistake: In the Belltower in Ramelle where Jackson and Parker are shooting away, there is one scene where you see Parker running out of .30 caliber ammunition. One second the MG uses a belt with ammunition, in the close up, you see the more modern disintegrating link.
Factual error: The American troops at Ramelle bridge are supposed to be fighting the 2nd SS Panzer Division. Two things wrong: the 2nd SS never had Tiger tanks in Normandy, having turned over their Tiger battalion to another unit in Russia prior to being transferred to France. Second, in the scenes with the Tigers, a 1st SS Panzerkorps insignia (Crossed Keys) is seen on the front right hull of the Tigers; 2nd SS Panzer Division was never a part of 1st SS Panzerkorps.
Revealing mistake: When the American goes to sit down and hits a block of wood that hits a wall the wall falls down and there are German soldiers. In the next shot they are screaming, notice the man standing in front of the table the camera makes a close up of his face he is the one without a helmet. In the next shot all of them get shot right? Well look closely at that man in front of the table he gets shot and goes to sit down on the table and misses the table. He quickly sits back on the table. Look closely and you'll see it. (00:56:10)
Factual error: The "tank traps" (actually designed to flip landing craft, when submerged) on Omaha are back-to-front. The bottom of the pole that that rests on the other two should be nearest the sea and not as shown in the movie. Documentary footage of the actual landings will confirm this. (00:09:15)
Continuity mistake: 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. (00:29:15)
Continuity mistake: In the scene when they defend the bridge in Ramelle there is a soldier who wants to attach a stick-bomb at a German tank. When he walks out to the tank you see that he is wearing a beige uniform. In the next shot you see that the uniform has changed into a dark green, and you also see that it is a puppet that explodes. (02:08:15)
Continuity mistake: In the scene where Mellish is in the fight to the death with the German. Mellish pulls out his bayonet with an underhand grip. In the next shot he has it with an overhand grip.