Saving Private Ryan

Corrected entry: As the boys on MythBusters recently demonstrated, bullets that enter the water even from very short ranges shatter and travel no more than about 1 metre before they run out of energy. So the opening scenes of the Omaha landing showing troops being shot while well under the water could not have happened.

Correction: As veterans of the Omaha beach landing described how they received injuries under those exact circumstances, I think it's safe to say that not only did the Mythbusters experiment fail to accurately replicate the situation, but that what's seen on screen is entirely possible.

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Whether or not it is possible for a bullet to travel that far through water would depend on a number of factors, including the water's temperature, the amount of water, the water's depth, and the distance from the water the bullet is being fired from.

The Germans were firing tracer bullets at the Americans during the Normandy scene. Tracer rounds catch fire as they travel through the air causing them to get very hot. This could have allowed them to travel very deep underwater with lethal force, if the round is shot from a great enough distance that is.

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.

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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.

Corrected entry: Even given the disastrously inaccurate airdrops, the 101st Airborne landed 15 to 20 miles closer to Utah beach than to Omaha beach, where Miller and men came ashore. By the end of June 6, most of the 101st was scattered in pockets near Vierville, easily twenty miles west of Omaha but within a mile or two of the lead elements from Utah. So why would commanders in Washington or England order Omaha units, which had been badly mauled on D-Day, to slog so far out of their way to find Ryan? Units from Omaha would have had to cross four enemy-held rivers and pass through almost all of the German 84th Corps to come close to any significant group of U.S. paratroopers.

Correction: Despite the distance between Omaha and Vierville, the commanders would have thought it best to send a small squad of Army Rangers - troops better suited for these types of special operations missions - behind enemy lines rather than deploying regular Army units. The only Ranger battalions present on D-day were assigned to land at Omaha Beach and Point du Hoc, although those men were not relieved until two days after the attack and would have been unable to break away for a mission. Also, we do not know the timetable for the events portrayed in the movie, it could have been a few days after D-day when Captain Miller and his squad were dispatched behind enemy lines.

I said the rule where they send rescue missions to save wasn't established until after WW2. I meant wasn't established until a few years after WW2. Before it was established the military wasn't willing to save to risk the lives of several to many soldiers to save one soldier.

If they were going to send any kind of squad at all. Some places were still occupied by German forces at the which the movie takes, and commanders would have thought it would be too risky to send any units behind enemy lines to save a single soldier.

Corrected entry: When Capt. Miller meets up with the first (and wrong) Private Ryan, his squad has just passed through a torrential downpour, soaking all of their uniforms. The rain has stopped when he sits to interview the mistaken private Ryan and the ground is still wet, but Miller's uniform is suddenly bone dry.

Correction: If you have ever seen or worn a military combat uniform, you would know that they are special because they can dry incredibly quickly. In the sun, a drenched uniform would be dry within the hour.

Corrected entry: In the D-Day scene where the Germans are firing at the troops on the beach a machine gun (MG-42) is fired for about ten seconds non-stop. The MG-42 can only fire for about 5 seconds without pausing otherwise the barrel will overheat causing the bullets to go everywhere. I fired an MG-42 before and overheated the barrel and that made the gun useless until I changed the barrel.

Correction: There is more than one MG, and you can clearly hear one MG stop firing and another start.

The Germans didn't pause long enough to prevent the guns from overheating.

Corrected entry: The scene where Capt. Miller asks Capt. Ted Danson, "do you have anything resembeling a Four Star Hotel in this town?" isn't right. The "Four Star" hotel designation is derived from the Mobil Travel Guide Service which began in 1958 and of course would not have been part of the American nomenclature of 1944.

Correction: The Michelin Guide was in operation before the Mobil Guide and was where the "star" concept originated.

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)

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Trivia: Some of the extras in the film were real amputees with one arm or leg missing so the effect of seeing someone blown up and lose their limb was as realistic as possible, as opposed to having a leg or arm "tucked away." There was uproar in Ireland because of this, but the extras loved meeting the actors and getting paid handsomely as well.


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Question: Jackson, the sniper of Miller's crew, states that if he was in a mile of Adolf Hitler, he would kill him. So, as they were driven to the beach, why didn't Jackson and other snipers try to pick off the the German guys who were firing the at the boats as the Americans left them?

Answer: Sniping needs stability - the movement of the waves under the boat would disrupt their aim so badly that they wouldn't have much hope of hitting anything.

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