By Connor Mongan ’22
On Veteran’s Day, our utmost priority is to remember and honor all those who have served in the armed forces. Many brave men and women have risked or lost their lives to protect our nation, and they deserve to be recognized for their service. Many film directors have attempted to capture the different aspects of war and provide us with an opportunity to appreciate the sacrifice of our troops.
Saving Private Ryan (1998) and Midway (2019), each corresponding with a different branch of the military, are two enjoyable films that are undoubtedly worth watching in remembrance of our veterans.
Saving Private Ryan (1998)
Directed by Steven Spielberg
Imagine being a soldier on D-Day: machine guns firing, bombs crashing, men screaming. More than 150,000 young men were thrust into battle on the beaches of Normandy and, although the Allied Forces successfully invaded Nazi-occupied territory, few survived.
Saving Private Ryan starts with a bang, featuring an unforgettable opening scene, as Captain John H. Miller (Tom Hanks) and the other Allied troops storm the beaches at Normandy. It is graphic, intense, and extremely effective in showing the horrors of war.
The film’s action sequences are excellent, but it truly shines in the portrayal of its characters. Captain Miller brilliantly leads a squad full of colorful characters, including one Private Caparzo (Vin Diesel). The interactions between characters feel so real that, by the third act of the film, you feel as if you are fighting alongside the unit. The film centers around Hanks’ squad attempting to rescue a paratrooper named Private James Ryan (Matt Damon). Ryan’s three brothers had all died, and so the U.S. military called for Ryan’s rescue to avoid the further heartbreak of his mother. The film’s long run-time can be intimidating, but no time is wasted, as the film is emotional, triumphant, and inspiring.
Saving Private Ryan won five Academy Awards for a reason, and it is definitely a must-watch for all.
Directed by Roland Emmerich
Before the Air Force manned the skies, the United States relied on the Navy to handle its aerial combat. Midway tells the story of the USS Enterprise, a World War II aircraft carrier that was involved in the Battle of Midway. Midway is largely considered to be the turning point of the war, which emphasizes the crucial impact of the Enterprise. Early on, the film gives a harrowing look at the attack on Pearl Harbor and shows the impact of the attack on soldiers.
Edwin Layton (Patrick Wilson), an American code breaker who succeeds in intercepting transmissions from the Japanese army, discovers a potential attack on Pearl Harbor. Layton attempts to warn the admiral about the attack but fails to produce enough evidence. After the attack, Layton decodes other secret Japanese messages that detail their navy moving towards the Midway Islands. The United States Navy listens to Layton this time, and an epic battle fought at land and sea ensues.
The film’s biggest flaw is its embrace of the campiness of the time period, as the action sequences sometimes do not feel real due to the theatricality. Still, this film is a fun, feel-good story about an important moment of the war that is often overlooked.