Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB. USA, 1998. DreamWorks, Paramount Pictures, Amblin Entertainment, Mutual Film Company. Screenplay by Robert Rodat. Cinematography by Janusz Kaminski. Produced by Ian Bryce, Mark Gordon, Gary Levinsohn, Steven Spielberg. Music by John Williams. Production Design by Thomas E. Sanders. Costume Design by Joanna Johnston. Film Editing by Michael Kahn. Academy Awards 1998. Golden Globe Awards 1998.
The first half hour of Steven Spielberg’s excellent film is one of the best war movies ever made. Perfect editing, sound design and realistic photography draw you in and make you feel like you’re actually experiencing the D-Day landing with Tom Hanks and his platoon. Following that is a more familiar plot about Hanks’ platoon searching the battlefields of France in search of Matt Damon, the last remaining survivor of a family of five brothers who have already been killed in battle. The war department does not want his mother to lose every single one of her children and so decides to send a group of men to find him, but the idea of making something sense in a world that suddenly makes none is more complicated than it at first seems. Though it doesn’t live up to the promise of its brilliant opening, it is so well put together and free of most hammy war movie cliches that have dogged the genre for so long, that it deserves the overwhelmingly positive response it has received. It’s no Schindler’s List, but thankfully it’s no Amistad either.