New this month Revealing mistake: If you look at the river under the bridge and all other shoots it isn't flowing yet it is quite shallow. In one shot the wind is blowing the surface.The river was purpose built along with the town on former British Aerospace Factory in Hatfield Herts and the river is a shallow oblong mini lake the runs the width of the set.
New this month Factual error: When the Waffen SS unit attacks the town at the end of the film (Ramelle), the Germans use "allied" tactics such as crowding behind a tank to enter the center of the town at a disadvantage by the tall buildings and rubble that inhibits quick forward thrusts. At this stage of the war, especially Waffen SS units (even if they may be replacement units - which I doubt) they would not be blindly led in such horrific maneuvers.
Continuity mistake: 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 mistake: 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
Factual error: When Capt. Miller talks to the pilot of the crashed glider telling his story the guy says he lost 22 men in the crash. Only one problem: his glider is a Waco CG-4A (the similar-looking but larger Waco CG-13A wasn't used in the Normandy invasion). The maximum load for one of those was only 13 fully equipped troops and the two pilots, and that's without a jeep. As a jeep is visible in the rear of the fuselage, there couldn't possibly have been more than 6 men on that glider including the pilots, or it never would have gotten airborne.
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.
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.
Continuity mistake: In the scene where the American soldiers are about to ambush the Tiger tank, look at the empty belt on the right side of CPL Henderson's machine gun. Its length changes from shot to shot before he opens fire.
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.
Continuity mistake: In the scene where Miller tries to persuade Ryan to go back home, watch their shadows on the bridge, they change directions throughout the scene because they were shot at different times of the day.
Revealing mistake: In the closing battle of the film we see one of the American soldiers with an ammunition belt around his neck. The striker marks on the primers indicate that the belt is made up of fired (ie. useless) cases which have had bullets put back into them so they look normal.
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.
Continuity mistake: When the group of soldiers led by Captain Miller are in the village, and the soldier knocks the wall down accidentally, if you notice when the soldiers above shoot them dead, that a lot of the blood gets sprayed onto part of the back wall, yet when we see the wall from inside the house, there is hardly any blood at all.
Continuity mistake: At the end when Tom Hanks has just died, there is a distant shot of Ryan standing there in disbelief. By Tom Hanks left leg is a helmet, upside down. The next shot is from above and the helmet has flipped over.
Factual error: The typing pool scene, in which we first learn about Private Ryan, features vintage typewriters of various makes and models being used to notify families of soldiers killed in action. One of the first typewriters we see is a Swiss-made Hermes Ambassador from the mid-1950's.
Other mistake: When they exit the beach and attack the big concrete bunker two grenades are thrown at the entrance some distance away but the explosion happens on the other side of the wall and not near the entrance at all.
Continuity mistake: When discovering that 3 of the 4 brothers were killed, it's stated that they were all in the same company until they were split after the Juneau was sunk. We also see a few shots later when the Army car is pulling up to the mother's house that there is a picture of all 4 of them together in uniform. When Miller and Ryan are talking about Ryan's memory of his brother towards the end of the movie, he states that the last time the 4 of them were together was the night of the barn accident before Dan went to basic.
Factual error: When Mellish and Henderson are fighting in the room in Romell, twice German Steilgrenates are thrown into the room. Both times they are picked up and thrown back and then the grenades explode. This is highly unlikely since the Steilgrenate had a short (4.5 sec) fuse and would likely have blown up in the hand of the person throwing it back. It was more common that Germans threw back American grenades which had a much longer fuse delay.
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.
Continuity mistake: At the end of the Radar Station Battle, Miller is yelling for Upham to bring their gear. As told he does. Watch carefully. Just as he picks up the gear, he has a green strap on his chest. when you see a shot of him running, the strap is gone.
Continuity mistake: When they first enter the field hospital, look at the side of the glider. By the door, there is no dead body. When they come back, there is a body resting against the glider. Did a wounded man get up to die next to the glider?
Continuity mistake: When Upham is hiding behind a cow while his squad rushes the communication tower/bunker, he uses a sniper scope to see his squad mates. Upham holds the scope differently every time. The two knobs would first be at north/west, and the next shot would be south/east. This will change several times until Captain Miller tells him to get the gear.
Revealing mistake: At the end of the movie, in the Omaha Cemetery scene where the old Ryan is reading Captain Miller's marker, the shoreline should be to his left, not his right. This is because all the stones face the same direction and, when reading them, the water would be on the reader's left. Only Miller's stone is facing the opposite direction- note that all the others look blank because we're looking at their backs.
Revealing mistake: In the scene in Ramelle, 5 or so guys climb onto a stopped tank and the 20mm gun opens fire on them. The middle "guy" is stood upright next to the turret. I say "guy" because he's a dummy rigged to be shot - he is rigid for the whole scene until he falls to pieces.
Factual error: When the Americans arrive in the first village (the one where the family is marooned upstairs in what's left of their house) there is a French car. The car's registration plate follows the post-war system, not introduced until 1950.
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.
Character mistake: Before the final attack in the village, we can see a wall with an advertising for Byrrh, an aperitif drink made from a blend of wines. The ad reads: "Byrrh, l'ami de l'estomach, " which basically means: "Byrrh, stomach's friend." In French, the correct spelling is "estomac." not "estomach." This is quite a big mistake since the ad and the building are three or four stories high.
Continuity mistake: When Miller first hits the sand at Omaha a mortar round blows up behind him. He kneels in the sand, his face covered with bloody water. Seconds later a young soldier shouts at him and suddenly Miller is chest deep in the water with a clean face. Also his helmet liner strap changes position across the visor of his helmet.
Factual error: Miller and his men finally find Ryan in the scene where Ryan destroys a German half track with a bazooka. The camera does not show Ryan firing the bazooka, but you hear the blast and see the effect of the shot hitting the half track, firing twice in about a three second interval. The problem is that a bazooka is a single shot weapon, and must be reloaded by hand. This takes time, perhaps 20 seconds if not more.
Factual error: When Upham and Mellish are conversing before the fight at Ramelle, Mellish is seen placing Mk. 2 Pineapple grenades into Upham's helmet. The "spoon" on the grenades does not look to be the correct type. The ones in the film appear to be modern, folded, sheet metal painted dark green; World War II era ones are a simple piece of stamped, sheet steel. The modern ones are angular while World War II ones have a slight curve.
Continuity mistake: When Mike crosses the bridge at the end he gets shot and is helped by a soldier. From the German view the bridge is clear, then it cuts to the American side and Mike and the soldier are exiting the bridge to their left towards Miller. A motorbike and sidecar have now appeared behind them and a crouching American soldier is next to the motorbike halfway across the bridge.
Continuity mistake: In the final battle Captain Miller is shouting at Mike, who's slumped against the sandbags, dead. The wound on his left shoulder has disappeared.
Continuity mistake: At the end when Ryan is looking at captain Miller, in the long shot the ground is wet and there is an upturned helmet near Miller, but in the close up shot over Ryan's shoulder the ground is dry and the helmet is the right way round and white bricks have appeared next to it.
Continuity mistake: In the opening scene, when old James Ryan's family is behind him in the wider shot, one of the three blonde girls at the back has her hair over her ear and her right hand down by her side. In the following closeup of her, her hair is now behind her ear and her hand is up by her bag strap.
Continuity mistake: During the Omaha beach scene, when Miller, Horvath and a few other soldiers are at the front of one of the bunkers trying to get past the firing squad, he puts down his knife with the mirror attached and grabs his gun, holding it underneath, but in the following shot he is holding it at the top.