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

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Tom Hanks, Matt Damon, and Ed Burns in "Saving Private Ryan'
DreamWorks Pictures

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.

Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher will retire as a chief petty officer now that President Donald Trump has restored his rank.

"Before the prosecution of Special Warfare Operator First Class Edward Gallagher, he had been selected for promotion to Senior Chief, awarded a Bronze Star with a "V" for valor, and assigned to an important position in the Navy as an instructor," a White House statement said.

"Though ultimately acquitted on all of the most serious charges, he was stripped of these honors as he awaited his trial and its outcome. Given his service to our Nation, a promotion back to the rank and pay grade of Chief Petty Officer is justified."

The announcement that Gallagher is once again an E-7 effectively nullifies the Navy's entire effort to prosecute Gallagher for allegedly committing war crimes. It is also the culmination of Trump's support for the SEAL throughout the legal process.

On July 2, military jurors found Gallagher not guilty of premeditated murder and attempted murder for allegedly stabbing a wounded ISIS fighter to death and opening fire at an old man and a young girl on separate occasions during his 2017 deployment to Iraq.

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Maj. Matthew Golsteyn in Afghanistan. (Photo courtesy of Philip Stackhouse.)

President Donald Trump has ended the decade-long saga of Maj. Matthew Golsteyn by ordering a murder charge against the former Green Beret dismissed with a full pardon.

The Army charged Golsteyn with murder in December 2018 after he repeatedly acknowledged that he killed an unarmed Afghan man in 2010. Golsteyn's charge sheet identifies the man as "Rasoul."

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(Screenshot from 'Leavenworth')

President Donald Trump has signed a full pardon for former 1st Lt. Clint Lorance, who had been convicted of murder for ordering his soldiers to open fire on three unarmed Afghan men, two of whom were killed.

Lorance will now be released from the United States Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, where he had been serving a 19-year sentence.

"He has served more than six years of a 19-year sentence he received. Many Americans have sought executive clemency for Lorance, including 124,000 people who have signed a petition to the White House, as well as several members of Congress," said a White House statement released Friday.

"The President, as Commander-in-Chief, is ultimately responsible for ensuring that the law is enforced and when appropriate, that mercy is granted. For more than two hundred years, presidents have used their authority to offer second chances to deserving individuals, including those in uniform who have served our country. These actions are in keeping with this long history. As the President has stated, 'when our soldiers have to fight for our country, I want to give them the confidence to fight.'"

Additionally, Trump pardoned Maj. Matthew Golsteyn, who was to go on trial for murder charges next year, and restored the rank of Navy SEAL Chief Edward Gallagher, who was found not guilty of murdering a wounded ISIS prisoner but convicted of taking an unauthorized photo with the corpse.

Fox News contributor Pete Hegseth first announced on Nov. 4 that the president was expected to intervene in the Lorance case was well as exonerate Army Maj. Matthew Golsteyn, who has been charged with murder after he admitted to killing an unarmed Afghan man whom he believed was a Taliban bomb maker, and restore Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher's rank to E-7.

For the past week, members of Lorance's family and his legal team have been holding a constant vigil in Kansas anticipating his release, said Lorance's attorney Don Brown.

Now that he has been exonerated of committing a war crime, Lorance wants to return to active duty, Brown told Task & Purpose on Wednesday.

"He loves the Army," Brown said prior to the president's announcement. "He doesn't have any animosity. He's hoping that his case – and even his time at Leavenworth – can be used for good to deal with some issues regarding rules of engagement on a permanent basis so that our warfighters are better protected, so that we have stronger presumptions favoring warfighters and they aren't treated like criminals on the South Side of Chicago."

In the Starz documentary "Leavenworth," Lorance's platoon members discuss the series of events that took place on July 2, 2012, when the two Afghan men were killed during a patrol in Kandahar province.They claim that Lorance ordered one of his soldiers to fire at three Afghan men riding a motorcycle. The three men got off their motorcycle and started walking toward Afghan troops, who ordered them to return to their motorcycle.

At that point, Lorance ordered the turret gunner on a nearby Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle to shoot the three men, according to the documentary. That order was initially ignored, but the turret gunner eventually opened fire with his M-240, killing two of the men.

But Lorance told the documentary makers that his former soldiers' account of what happened was "ill-informed."

"From my experience of what actually went down, when my guy fired at it, and it kept coming, that signified hostile intent, because he didn't stop immediately," Lorance said in the documentary's second episode.

Brown argues that not only is Lorance innocent of murder, he should never have been prosecuted in the first case.

"He made a call and when you look at the evidence itself, the call was made within a matter of seconds," Brown said "He would make that call again."

The new Call of Duty Modern Warfare takes gaming to a new level. In fact, it's the best damn video game of 2019 (in my humble opinion).

You can watch video of the awesome gameplay for CoD above, and make sure to follow the Task & Purpose team on Twitch here.

This post was sponsored by GoatGuns.Com. Use the code TP15 for 15% off your next order.

A new trailer just dropped for the upcoming World War I action flick The Great War.

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