Saving Private Ryan

Corrected entry: A Hitler Youth dagger is found in the trench right after the first bunker is taken on the beach. The men in these bunkers were mostly old German soldiers (in their 40's), veterans of the Russian campaign and Ukrainian and White Russian conscripts. It's highly unlikely that a member of the Hitler Youth or an SS Division composed of them would have been manning the bunkers on that stretch of Normandy, which had not been expected to be an invasion target. These divisions were kept further inland, with the rest of the SS Panzer divisions.

Correction: Actually, the Hitler Youth WERE at Normandy. Hitler sent them there to 'fill out the ranks' because they were inexperienced, un-trained and he decided it was the least likely point of attack.


Corrected entry: In the end battle the Americans take on the Waffen SS 2nd division 'Das Reich'. Das Reich's Tiger tank company was disbanded in 1943 at Kursk, yet in the film two tigers are present under Das Reich command.

Correction: In fact, the massacre of Oradour sur Glane, where more than 600 civilians were slaughtered by the Germans, was operated by units of the 2nd SS Panzer Division "Das Reich" on 9./10.6.1944 whilst on their way to Normandy beaches. Obviously, the unit was not destroyed at all in 1943


Corrected entry: Pvt. Jackson (the sniper) is using a 1903 Springfield, bolt action rifle. The problem is that he is left handed and the bolt is on the right side of the gun; he must reach over the scope with his left hand to activate the bolt after each shot - a very awkward move. It is doubtful that the Army would have allowed a lefty to train as a sniper because of the type of weapon used.

Correction: Yes, he does reach over the gun to reload. This is because some snipers are trained in military as to NEVER remove their hand from the trigger when engaging multiple targets. So, in which case, he doesn't remove his hand from the trigger, continues aiming, and reloads with his free hand.


Corrected entry: In the Omaha Beach scene we can see certain of the beach obstacles Rommel had installed just a couple of months before the invasion took place. While most of them are according to historical appearance, the triangles of wood are headed the wrong way. Their flat end is to be towards the sea, not towards the bunkers.

Correction: In the movie, there are wooden structures facing in both directions. The ones further out to sea are sloping down towards the beach (presumably to prevent landing craft from getting too close) and the ones actually ON the beach are facing the other way, to prevent heavy armoured vehicles from driving up to the bunkers.


Corrected entry: At the end of the beach battle, Captain Miller calls up a soldier with a flamethrower to clear the bunker. Firing a flamethrower through the back entrance to a bunker was extremely unwise. A well constructed bunker (and the Germans were good at making bunkers) would not have a back entrance that led directly into the main area of the bunker. In order to deflect blasts there would either be a concrete slab inside the door or a corridor which would force you to turn left or right to enter the bunker. Firing a flamethrower straight through the door into a concrete slab would kill the flamethrower operator as the flame deflected back at him.

Correction: As the shot changes to show the front of the bunker, there is time for the flamethrower operator to go round the corner into the main area. It's unlikely he would have fired straight away when faced with the wall, and we don't see exactly what he does.


Corrected entry: In the scene where Ryan and Miller are lobbing mortars at the advancing troops, they both say they are out of ammo but as soon as they cross the bridge Hanks is firing his Thompson at the german firing line, if he said he was out where did he get the Thompson ammo?

Correction: They would have had some spare ammo in their 'Alamo' position, which they have just reached.


Corrected entry: At the beginning of the last battle scene in the French village you can see the back of the soldiers who are looking down the street awaiting the arriving German tanks. If you look closely at the end of the street you can see the stationary, angled barrel of a tank yet the soundtrack of that tank leads the viewer into believing it is moving beyond the buildings. When the "sound" of the tank reaches the street the tank itself starts to move as well.

Correction: The stationary, angled object is a piece of rubble, not the tank's gun barrel. The tank emerges from a a position behind the junk.


Corrected entry: Throughout the movie, we see Rieban firing his B.A.R and there are flashes at the end of the barrel. All B.A.Rs had a flash supressant at the ends so no flashes should bee seen.

Correction: Hiding the flash from enemy troops when firing on them isn't the purpose of the hider, all automatic weapons are easily visible when fired at night. It blocks the muzzle flash from the vision of the shooter, maintaining his night vision. Unless the camera was looking directly down the BAR (from the shooter's) point of view, seeing muzzle flashes would be natural, and expected.


Corrected entry: By the time in the second world war that Private Ryan portrays the German Air Force was mostly destroyed, Therefore most panzers were fitted with anti-aircraft guns on the commanders cupolas to provide some means of defence. These are clearly not present in the film.

Correction: As you say, "most" German tanks had anti-aircraft protection in the form of an MG42 mounted on top. I think it is fair to say that the tanks shown are simply those that did not. So it's not a mistake at all.


Corrected entry: When Caparzo is hit by the sniper he falls and drops his M1 right next to where he lands. Next time you see him the M1 is gone.

Correction: Caparzo is hit by the sniper and falls to the ground with his gun in his right hand. Before he is down on the ground the camera moves to the next shot. After 42 seconds you see Caparzo again, he has dropped his M1 near his left foot where it stays during the rest of the scene.


Corrected entry: When they show the big battle at the beginning, the insignia of the troops is clearly that of a unit that was an all black unit, yet there isn't a black actor in sight.

Correction: The insignia is the 29th Infantry, which was not a segregated black division.


Corrected entry: The older veteran Ryan seen in the opening and closing of the film is wearing a windbreaker with two pins on it. One pin is the insignia of the 101st Airborne (his unit). The other pin is the Presidential Unit Citation (blue bar with gold trim). This was awarded to the soldiers of the 101st after the Battle of Bastogne in December 1944, six months after Private Ryan was sent home. Many 101st vets wear this, but Ryan wouldn't have.

Correction: In fact, this award was given to the 101st for their work in Normandy. There's a scene about it in Episode 3 of "Band of Brothers" - take a look.


Corrected entry: While Mellish and Henderson are fighting in the light blue room in Romell, a German Steilgrenate (hand grenade) flies through the hole and lands on the floor. When it lands, the black explosive tube is facing Mellish, however when he picks it up and throws it out, he's holding it by the end of the stick. Watch in slow-motion.

Correction: Watching the scene frame by frame shows his wrist turning (so the grenade faces the other direction) when throwing the grenade.


Corrected entry: In the scene where Mellish is fighting with the German in the building, we see Mellish biting the German's chin and a lot of blood comes out. Later in the scene, the German is on top of Mellish and no blood drips out and his chin appears to be fine.

Correction: He bites his knuckle, not his chin.


Corrected entry: In the scene at the beginning where 3 medics are trying to save a man's life, just before the medic starts screaming abuse at the Germans to give them a chance and Hanks takes him away, you see that the medic on the left as you look at them has a red liquid pouring from his water bottle which makes it look like there's lots of blood coming from the dying man.

Correction: If you watch closely, the medic is shot through the canteen. At first water pours out of the hole in the canteen, but then it turns into his blood. He then quickly inserts gauze into the wound.


Corrected entry: Matt Damons character is Private Ryan, well if he is a private then why does he have a lance-corporal stripe on the arm of his jacket?

Correction: Matt Damon is a Private (PFC) and in the US Army a Private First Class (PFC) wears one stripe on his arm.


Corrected entry: At the beginning of the scene in which Mellick is killed at knifepoint, we see Mellick and airborne soldier in the room shooting at Germans. The ammo runs low and they hear footsteps coming up the steps. They shoot into the wall, we hear a thud and blood streams on the floor into the room from the hallway. Next, the Germans (including the who kills Mellick) storm the room, but our heroes get one first; this German falls dead outside the room blocking the door. Now cut to the end of the scene: Mellick is dead and the German is now walking down the stairs. There should be at least two dead bodies at the top of the stairs, but they're gone.

Correction: If you watch the earlier scene where the three soldiers first setup in the room upstairs, you will notice that the staircase has a 90-degree turn in it. So, the area that the German soldier passes by the Corp. Upham, you are only seeing the first 2/3rds of the staircase. The dead soldiers would be around the corner.


Corrected entry: Throughout the movie Pvt. Jackson uses a Springfield '03 rifle; a rifle that can only hold 5 rounds of ammo at a time. In the final battle scene where he is firing on the Germans from atop the church tower, you see that he fires more than 5 rounds continuously without reloading.

Correction: They cut away from him so much you never can know if he reloads or not.

Corrected entry: In the scene in the French village after the soldier attempting to rescue the girl is shot, where the German marksman is shown being shot through the scope is an impossibility. Modern higher powered rifles are unable to pierce a scope, let alone pierce directly through the scope and through the German's head. Also, a marksman on a battlefield, under stress, would never be able to place such an accurate shot. Sources: Mythbusters. (00:55:40)

Correction: Many veterans mention such a shot being taken in memoirs written after the war. First-hand accounts by veterans would seem more definitive than a TV show that can only attempt to simulate a given situation. Further, it's only impossible with a modern scope, the Mythbusters revisited the myth and found that it is in fact plausible with a period scope. Not to mention Carlos Hathcock had a confirmed kill in Vietnam in this way.

Tailkinker Premium member

Yeah, but you have to use armor piercing bullets in order to pierce the scope. You can't regular bullets. When the mythbusters revisited the myth, only armor piercing bullets where able to pierce the scope. Regular bullets couldn't.

Corrected entry: Near the end of the final battle when Tom Hanks is lying wounded on the bridge, the weather is all dry and it's not raining at all. But when the reinforcements arrive and the camera moves to an overview shot revealing number of rangers and a jeep heading towards the bridge, it's miraculously started raining and the ground looks covered with puddles, as if it's rained for a long time already. Yet it never rains during the battle or anywhere near it. When it moves back to a closeup shot of Tom Hanks, it's dry again. The weather changes between dry and wet several times.


Correction: The wet ground is not caused by rain, it's caused by debris and large objects falling into the river, causing the water to splash up and onto the ground.

Continuity mistake: When they go to find Private Ryan there are eight of them, when they go to a French town and a soldier 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)

More mistakes in Saving Private Ryan

Private Reiben: You wouldn't shoot the kraut and now you're gonna shoot me?
Sergeant Horvath: He's better than you.

More quotes from Saving Private Ryan

Trivia: The pivotal role of "Minnesota Ryan", the Private Ryan that Captain Miller mistakes for the Private Ryan for whom he is searching, is played by a very young and, at the time quasi-unknown, Nathan Fillion.

Cubs Fan
More trivia for Saving Private Ryan

Question: After Capt Miller gets briefed on his new mission to rescue Pvt Ryan and enlists Upham for the mission, there is a long shot of the beach. What are those Zeppelin-like things that are floating around, tied to the ground? What are they good for? (00:39:50)

Answer: These were barrage balloons, commonly used during the war. They are used to stop low level bombing and low level fly bys by enemy fighter planes. The cables attached to the balloons are designed to cut through the wings of the aircraft and to bring them down, so any pilot would have to fly above them, and the balloons would also restrict the view from above.

More questions & answers from Saving Private Ryan

Join the mailing list

Separate from membership, this is to get updates about mistakes in recent releases. Addresses are not passed on to any third party, and are used solely for direct communication from this site. You can unsubscribe at any time.

Check out the mistake & trivia books, on Kindle and in paperback.