10 Things You Probably Never Knew About 'Saving Private Ryan'

Entertainment

Editor's note: This story originally appeared in March 2016 and has been republished for the 20th anniversary of  'Saving Private Ryan'


What pops into your head when you think about 'Saving Private Ryan?'

For many people, it’s the five Oscars, two Golden Globes, two BAFTAs, and an induction into the National Film Registry as a “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant film” — accolades Steven Spielberg’s World War II opus has earned since the film’s 1998 release. The New York Times film review called it “only the finest war movie of our time,” citing the film’s frank, bloody, violent, unflinching portrayal of the Omaha Beach landing on D-Day as a major achievement. And the veteran community resoundingly agreed, echoing the film’s intense combat scenes as a therapeutic base from which to discuss, process, and understand their experiences at war.

It’s been 20years since then, but those words are no less true. Here are 10 facts you probably never realized about 'Saving Private Ryan.

1. Spielberg played favorites

All of the main actors were sent to boot camp, except for Matt Damon, who played Private Ryan. This was done deliberately, so the actors would have real resentment against Damon to mirror the film’s narrative.

2. Vanilla Ice has a link to the film

Cinematographer Janusz Kamiński was no stranger to World War II films, having also worked on Spielberg’s “Schindler’s List.” Some of Kamiński’s other cinematography credits include “Jerry Maguire,” “Amistad,” “Catch Me If You Can,” and, inexplicably, the Vanilla Ice movie “Cool As Ice.”

3. D-Day was all about the details

This is the film’s opening scene by the numbers: With $12 million of the $70 million total budget, Spielberg used 40 barrels of stage blood, 1,500 extras, 30 amputees, zero storyboarding, and 27 minutes of runtime to recreate the Omaha Beach landing scene.

4. World War II veterans were reliving D-Day

The Department of Veterans Affairs set up a hotline number for traumatized veterans to call after seeing the film. The hotline received over 170 calls in the two weeks following the film’s release date.

5. Yes, it’s supposed to look washed out

The film’s coloring was purposefully desaturated by stripping camera lenses of their protective coatings, followed by running the exposed film through a bleach process. The goal was to give the film’s final look the effect of 1940s newsreel footage.

6. Spielberg altered history in America’s favor

'Saving Private Ryan' ignores other countries’ contributions to the D-Day landings, with the 2nd Rangers being accompanied by Coast Guard crews and the USS Jefferson, instead of the Royal Navy and British ships.

7. 'Saving Private Ryan' was predicted to win the Oscar for Best Picture

'Saving Private Ryan' is one of the few Oscar winners for Best Director that did not also win its Best Picture nomination. The Best Picture award that year went to “Shakespeare In Love,” which was a huge upset among Hollywood and the general public alike.

8. The majority of costumes and props were custom made

Costume designer Joanna Johnson oversaw the creation of 3,500 costumes, as well as 2,000 weapons just for the Omaha Beach landing scene. Five hundred of the 2,000 replica weapons could shoot blanks, while the rest were rubber.

9. Tom Hanks wasn’t automatically given the lead

Both Mel Gibson and Harrison Ford were in the running for the role of Capt. John Miller, which ended up going to Tom Hanks.

10. Gunfire was recorded with authentic period weapons

Special effects director Gary Rydstrom contacted Kevin Brittingham, owner of Advanced Armaments Corporation, for help with recording the appropriate gunfire. Among Brittingham’s collection were World War II-era guns such as the Browning automatic rifle, a Thompson submachine gun, and a Solothurn S18-1000 20-millimeter anti-tank rifle.

DreamWorks Pictures
(U.S. Air Force)

Two airmen were administratively punished for drinking at the missile launch control center for 150 nuclear LGM-30G Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles at F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming, the Air Force confirmed to Task & Purpose on Friday.

Read More Show Less
(DoD photos)

The U.S. Senate closed out the week before Memorial Day by confirming Gen. James McConville as the Army's new chief of staff and Adm. Bill Moran as the Navy's new chief of naval operations.

McConville, previously vice chief of staff of the Army, was confirmed on Thursday along with his successor, Lt Gen. Joseph Marin. Moran, currently vice chief of naval operations, was confirmed Friday along with his successor, Vice Adm. Robert Burke.

Read More Show Less

Wright-Patterson Air Force Base is prohibiting service members who work there from being in the area of a Ku Klux Klan rally scheduled for Saturday in downtown Dayton, Ohio.

Read More Show Less
(Associated Press/Elise Amendola)

The Pentagon is producing precisely diddly-squat in terms of proof that Iran is behind recent attacks in the Middle East, requiring more U.S. troops be sent to the region.

Adm. Michael Gilday, director of the Joint Staff, said on Friday that the U.S. military is extending the deployment of about 600 troops with four Patriot missile batteries already in the region and sending close to 1,000 other service members to the Middle East in response to an Iranian "campaign" against U.S. forces.

Read More Show Less
(DoD photo)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump said on Friday he will send about 1,500 American troops to the Middle East, mostly as a protective measure, amid heightened tensions with Iran.

However, the Republican leader played down the potential for military conflict in the region, saying he believed Iran did not want a confrontation with the United States.

"We want to have protection in the Middle East. We're going to be sending a relatively small number of troops, mostly protective," Trump said as he left the White House for a trip to Japan.

Read More Show Less