Saving Private Ryan

Trivia: The movie was shot in chronological order, which is unusual for a film. Spielberg chose to shoot it that way so that the actors would feel like they were going through the experience in the same order as the characters they play, and they lose friends on the way. This helped create the resentment towards Ryan, who doesn't share the journey with them.

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.


Trivia: 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.

Trivia: During the scene in which Pvt. Stanley Mellish is being stabbed slowly by the German soldier, the soldier is whispering something to him in German - "Give up. You have got no chance. This way is much more easy for you. Much easier."

Trivia: The storyline for the movie was very loosely based on the story of Sgt. Frederick (Fritz) Niland from Tonawanda, New York. He and other members of the 101st, were dropped too far inland, but eventually made their way back to their unit. Upon his arrival back, the Chaplain told Niland about the death of his three brothers, two at Normandy and one in the Far East, so the Chaplain arranged his return home, due to the US War Department's Sole Survivor Policy. As it turned out, his brother believed to have been killed in the Far East had been captured, and later returned home as well. The story of Niland and the 101st was written about by the Chaplain, Lt. Col. Father Francis Sampson, in his book, Look Out Below!

Trivia: The story James Ryan tells Miller, about his brothers in the barn with Alice Jardin, was not in the script. Matt Damon ad-libbed it and Spielberg decided to leave it in the final film.

Trivia: The resentment the soldiers feel towards Pvt. Ryan is real: Matt Damon was the only cast member who didn't go through boot camp.

Trivia: Director Steven Spielberg reduced the color saturation of the film by approximately 60% to more closely match his artistic vision. This led to a flood of complaints by customers when the movie was broadcast on TV and cable, so the cable and TV companies had to turn the colour gain back up again.

Phil C.

Trivia: The lieutenant colonel who gives Captain Miller his mission shortly after the D-Day landing is a representation of real-life figure James Earl Rudder. Following the war, Rudder served as president of Texas A&M University, his alma mater, where he oversaw racial and gender integration and transformed the school from an all-male military college to a co-educational research institution. Today, a special unit in the school's Corps of Cadets is known as "Rudder's Rangers" in his honor.


Trivia: The opening sequences of the Normandy invasion on D-Day were actually shot in Ireland, not in France. The French government would not give permission to the producers to shoot on Normandy beaches.

Trivia: The "streaks" that appear in the film when fires or explosions are shown are deliberate. This is a phenomenon that would often appear in actual WWII combat photography and was intentionally emulated when the film was made.

Phil C.

Trivia: Most viewers believe right up until the end of the movie that it is Tom Hanks character, Captain Miller, who is the old veteran in the beginning of the film crying in the French cemetery. This is because the camera shot fades from his eyes to Captain Miller's eyes in the scene just before the Normandy invasion. If you look very closely though you will see a very small "Screaming Eagle" pin on the old mans jacket indicating he is a paratrooper from the 101st Airborne Division. Captain Miller was a ranger.

Trivia: There is a very common misconception that the guy that they let go at the radar station, who ends up shooting the captain, is the same actor/character as the guy that stabs and kills Mellish. It's understandable because they do actually look very similar, but if you look closely you'll see that they are, indeed, not played by the same actors. The guy with the knife is not quite as bald, doesn't have two wounds under his right eye, and has connected earlobes. The one that they let go and later shoots the caption is more bald, has the two wounds under his eye, and does not have connected earlobes. Plus their mannerisms and voices are very different.


Trivia: The French town at the end is a purpose built movie set on the old British Aerospace site in Hatfield, complete with river. It was the same site used in the opening scenes in Band of Brothers.

Trivia: This was Vin Diesel's first big break into films and his first paid acting job.

Trivia: When the military personnel pull up to inform Ms. Ryan about her three sons that were killed, there's a photo with all four boys on the right, with the American flag covering the face of presumably James Ryan.


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)

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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.

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