When the film first starts we see an American flag, it is unlike any others from a war film, most war films show the flag to be very glorious, neat, and with bright colours, this flag is different, the colours are de-saturated, it is very faint and worn, it is creased and messy.
I think Spielberg has done this to show that his film is unlike most others, it does not show the war being glorious and the soldiers being brave, instead he is going to show the real side of the war, how horrible of a place the war was, and how scared and confused the soldiers were. While the flag is being shown music is being played, it is a brass band playing a military song that is very slow and sad. This music is very emotive and tells the audience that the film is not going to be a glorious war film, but a sad and upsetting war film.
As the flag disappears we see a graveyard, the camera is low down and inline with the graves, we can only see a few graves, then as the camera slowly increases is height we can see the thousands upon thousands of graves appear, this gives a very sad feel to the scene, the audience know that each one of these graves represents a person who has died fighting for there country, this brings a lot of sadness.
We then see an elderly man walking with his younger family, he is slightly in front of his family and we can see that is having trouble walking, he walks towards a grave we do not get to see the name, he drops to his knees and starts to cry, we instantly know he was is the war and this is one of his dead comrades, from how he was walking the audience now knows what damage the war could have done to him, they can see that the effects can last forever. The man looks very upset and is crying, this shows the audience how upset this man must be, shows them how bad the war was for the soldiers.
The camera closes in on his face; we can see that he has an expression on his face, we can tell that is trying to remember something, the camera gets closed to his face, and into his eyes. We can start to hear the sound of waves crashing into the shore; we then start to hear guns and engine noise. The brass band slowly dies out as the sound of water and guns takes its place. This builds the tension because there is not any dialogue and it goes straight into a very different where the soldiers are in a boat.
We can see Captain Millers hand shaking while he opens his canteen for a drink, people are being sick and very scared, this lets the audience know how scared they were and what bad conditions they were in. Spielberg has used this transition from present day to 1942 to make everything more dramatic and to show that this man has experienced all of this in his lifetime. Other war films do not show it like this, they would show the man at the end when he is older, Spielberg’s technique of starting as an old man and going into his memories is much more effective because we know this man has experienced all this and lived to remember it.
Spielberg has made this film to show what the war was really like, how the men were confused and scared, many other war films show the war to be very glorious and a nice place to be, all the men are represented as gentlemen who are never scared, very brave and never got scared. Spielberg shows how the soldiers don’t always do what they are told, when the enemy soldiers put there hands up the American men shoot them still, in other movies they would not have done this, they would have taken them prisoner and not hurt them.
When Captain Miller and his men are in the boat, it appears as if a handheld camera is being used to film, it moves freely around the boat and shakes when the boat hits the waves, this gives the audience a feel of what the soldiers were going through when they were in the boat. When the boats go onto the beach we get a view of the German guns from there point of view, we can see them shooting down American soldier like they mean nothing, the audience gets to see from this how men were just shot down without thought.
A view of the enemies guns is not usually done in war films but in this film it is a crucial part of the beach scene as it shows the amount of men that were taken from there families without any thought of care. Through the whole beach scene very dull de-saturated colours are used, everything is grey, green, black or other dark colours. It looks like Spielberg has edited the film after and removed some of the colour. From this the audience can get a feel of how much of a horrible place this was to be.
The sea water is a very dark blue grey colour, there are a lot of dark red areas of blood being carried by the waves and a lot of people bleed with organs hanging out from there body, the blood is always darker than normal to show that this is not a joke but very serious. When Captain Miller is in his confusion scene we a man who has lost his arm and picks it up and takes it with him, in most films this would be considered a joke, but Spielberg has made it very serious by showing people getting shot around him and men screaming next to him.
All the way through the beach scene there are guns shots going off and bombs exploding, the actor have to really shout to be heard, the audience can tell from this how hard it was for the soldiers to give and receive orders, the audience can understand from this how easy it would have been to get the orders wrong and be shot down doing the wrong thing. When the soldiers leave the boat and fall into the water, we suddenly get an underwater camera; we can still hear gun shots and see bullets but the sound had an underwater effect, people are shouting and screaming but everything seems slower and has a different effect making it more dramatic.
When Captain Miller goes onto the beach a bomb explodes near him, the sound changes and the audience can tell he has lost his hearing, just like the underwater camera everything is slower and more dramatic. After a short time Captain Miller drops to his knees, once again the sound goes like he has lost his hearing, he is in a moment of confusion, and he is looking around him and wondering what to do.
Captain Miller is moving very slowly and everything seems like slow motion, everything around him seems like it would be if you were confused, from this the audience can get the feel of confusion. The camera focuses on one horrific moment at a time, we see people being shot and falling to the floor, we see people picking up there limbs and the confusion scene adds a more dramatic effect to all of these, the slowness of it makes the audience more focused on the things that are happening. As Captain Miller recovers the audience now know that soldiers get confused.
When the fighting stops the camera goes into the face of Captain Miller, we then see him opening his canteen, just like at the start of the fighting he is shaking while opening it, Spielberg has used these paired shot and the beginning and end of the fighting scene to tell the audience that the fighting is over. These two scenes also show that the soldiers were just ordinary people who were scared; these scenes show the character of Captain Miller and help the audience build up a mental relationship with Captain Miller.
The more of a relationship they feel they have with him the more they will feel for him. The brass band from the beginning starts to play, the audience will get the feeling that peace is once again and the fighting has stopped. The overall affect of this scene is sadness and unhappiness, the audience is expected feel that the soldiers went through a lot for there country and how bad it was for them.
The techniques that make this section of the film emotive and realistic are the close up shots were people are scared and confused, the brass band playing before and after the fighting, when the fighting scene is over the camera moves over all the dead soldiers lying on the beach, they are motionless and covered in blood, we then see S. Ryan on the film, the audience can tell he his dead and the scene for the rest of the film has been set.