I watched Saving Private Ryan tonight for the second time, and amazingly it didn't stun me as much as the first time watching it did. Even so, I'm still feeling a bit shaken up from the scene where Mellish gets killed (poor Adam! :()
I first saw SPR back in April of this year in my 11th grade History class, and it stunned me. Even now I still get chills thinking of some of the scenes. The opening landing on Omaha Beach and the scene where Private Mellish (Adam Goldberg) gets stabbed were enough to give me nightmares for weeks afterwards. Even so, I wanted to see it again, not for the blood and gore, but for the characters. Wade was the one that I identified with the most; the kindly medic would do anything to save a soldier, even when he was already gone. The two parts that really have stuck with me are the scenes where Medic Wade and Private Mellish die, mainly because those are my favorite characters (yay for Giovanni Ribisi and Adam Goldberg!!).
Wade’s scene had me in tears; it was so touching how they were trying to save him. Even as he was going into shock and hallucinating, they kept up a steady flow of chatter to distract him as they put pressure on the wounds; it made me cry even more as I heard what Jackson was whispering to him as Wade was fading out of consciousness: “shhhhhh, you’ll be alright, Wade… shhhhhh…”. It was beautifully tragic how Jackson comforted him in his last moments, whispering to him and rubbing his forehead.
And the other scene (Mellish’s death) was an absolute knockout. He’s fighting this German SS soldier guy, and he gets overpowered and pinned to the floor. As the soldier starts to kill him, Mellish pleads for his life, and do you know what that soldier does next? HE SOOTHES HIM AS HE STABS HIM TO DEATH! "Give in . . . you have no other choice ... make it easier for both of us...the war is over for you. Shhh. Rest now... shhhhhhhh, it's easier for you this way" That one scene made me so sad and angry at Upham for being a coward and not helping Mellish that I wanted to break something.
Everyone in my class thought Corporal Upham was a cowardly bastard who should have been shot when they got a chance, and I agreed with them. But I could also identify with him. He was relatively new to combat and inexperienced, scared of what he had to do. If I were him I’d be scared too.
This movie has shown me what war is really like; it’s hell on Earth. The glossed over Hollywood fluff of war movies of the past is dead to me. I’ve always been a very empathetic person, and I was warned before watching this that it would be very VERY gory, and if I needed to, I could step out and get a drink of water. I didn’t leave. I watched through clasped hands, biting my lip to keep from crying; I didn’t close my eyes to the horror.
I would have to say that EVERY high school student in the United States should see this movie; if not all of it, they should at least watch the opening beach landing scene. Teens these days are so desensitized to violence that they don’t know what real violence is. This movie will change their minds. I know it changed mine.