When Steven Spielberg’s “Saving Private Ryan” hit theaters in the summer of 1998, it was instantly hailed as a war film unlike anything audiences had ever seen before. And it mostly boiled down to one really long, really epic scene: the first 27 minutes of the movie, which depicts the Omaha Beach assault of June 6, 1944 in graphic detail and with dizzying devotion to the chaotic reality of heavy combat.
Nearly two decades later, Spielberg’s Omaha remains the gold standard for battle scenes, and, as this video by The Nerdwriter explains, it’s not just the in-your-face combination of big explosions, bone-shuddering sound effects, and gruesome footage that accounts for its longevity. There’s much more artistry at work than most people realize. Take a look.