Saving Private Ryan (DTS) (1998)

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Released 12-Nov-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category War Main Menu Audio & Animation
Scene Selection Anim & Audio
Featurette-Into The Breach: Saving Private Ryan
Theatrical Trailer-And Re-Release Trailer
Biographies-Cast & Crew
Production Notes
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 1998
Running Time 162:31
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (82:11)
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Steven Spielberg

Paramount Home Entertainment
Starring Tom Hanks
Edward Burns
Tom Sizemore
Matt Damon
Jeremy Davies
Adam Goldberg
Barry Pepper
Giovanni Ribisi
Vin Diesel
Ted Danson
Max Martini
Dylan Bruno
Joerg Stadler
Case ?
RPI $35.95 Music John Williams

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English dts 5.1 (768Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

    Expertly written by Robert Rodat, and brilliantly directed by Steven Spielberg, Saving Private Ryan was an astounding critical and commercial success. This is a film that has left an indelible imprint on movie-going audiences world-wide. From the brutal and shocking carnage and chaos of its opening to the demoralising and crushing mission finale, Spielberg has created a searching, philosophical film, through the crafting of unforgettable film images and sound.

    Saving Private Ryan undoubtedly presents the most violent, realistic, graphic, intense, and terrifying depiction of war that I have ever seen on screen. In the opening, and unforgettable, D-Day sequence, the enemy never meet eye to eye, but are faceless armies of men, with orders to blast away at each other until no-one is left standing. The terrified Allied soldiers storm Omaha Beach, and face a withering wall of mines, gunfire, and artillery. Employing seamless SFX and advanced film-making techniques, the horrors of battle carnage are splattered onscreen. Audiences find themselves totally immersed in the terror, with the dizzying and expert use of a variety of techniques, including hand-held cameras, the speeding up of the often unrelated images, frantic editing, and varying film stock. Spielberg's gifted Oscar-winning cinematographer, Janusz Kaminski, (Schindler's List), brings a compelling war-newsreel look to a lot of the images.


    In the following scenes, we see the gulf between those who plan and direct the war, and those who fight it. In the peaceful Washington office of Army Chief George C. Marshall (Harve Presnell), war is a noble (and political) affair and he carefully quotes Abraham Lincoln at length. A mother is about to get three telegrams telling her that three of her sons have been killed in action. She has a fourth son, a paratrooper lost in Normandy. Like a statesman, Marshall exclaims "If the boy's alive we are gonna send somebody to find him, and we are gonna get him the hell out of there.'

    So Captain John Miller (Tom Hanks) must lead a group of men to find "a needle in a stack of needles."

    The three-act structure of Saving Private Ryan is pretty straightforward. The movie is bookended by two major battle sequences, and in between, there are smaller skirmishes and relatively subdued, character-building moments to flesh out the story and the characters. As opposed to the intentional chaos and confusion of the D-Day sequence, the closing battle is clearly presented. The audience understands their plan of action, and the positions of the soldiers. We watch, totally absorbed, as their plan unfolds.

    Apart from the wonderful writing, cinematography, directing, editing, SFX, and art direction, Saving Private Ryan provides excellent acting performances from the ensemble cast, including Tom Hanks, Tom Sizemore, Matt Damon, Edward Burns, Jeremy Davies, Vin Diesel, Adam Goldberg, Barry Pepper, and Giovanni Ribisi. The philosophical focus of the story rests with the character of Cpl. Upham; the naive and frightened interpreter, who has never seen combat, delicately played by Jeremy Davies. Like us, he is an outsider who penetrates this world of camaraderie and death. His journey through this film is ours, and his character's transformation throughout is our journey.

    "Where's the sense of risking the lives of the eight of us to save one guy?"

    In Saving Private Ryan, there is no particular human villain. Even the cruel ideology and inhumane beliefs of Nazi Germany are not presented as the evil to be overcome. Rather, war and the blistering and cruel impact it has on the citizen soldiers who have to fight it is the real enemy. Is saving Private Ryan worth risking the lives of eight others? This question is not answered in the film, but leaves the answer to the individual viewer.

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Transfer Quality


    The transfer is excellent, and the image looked magnificent when viewed with the use of either my projector, or my widescreen television.

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced.

    The sharpness is excellent throughout. For example, consider the close-up of Tom Hanks' face at 26:17. Every pore of his skin is discernible, and if one looks closely, the camera and lighting equipment can be seen reflected in his pupils. There is some intentional blurring of the image at times for artistic effect. The picture has a high contrast, and as such, at times the shadow detail is intentionally, and subtlety, limited. The black level is excellent.

    The colour palette is intentionally muted, and at times even looks a little washed out as intended. The skin tones are accurate.

    Using DVD software, I examined the largest files on the disc. Looking at just over 27,000  frames (very roughly about 18 minutes) of the DVD, I found an average (and reasonable) bit rate of 6.156 megabits per second. There were no problems with MPEG artefacts.

    While film-to-video artefacts are not a problem, I did notice some very subtle aliasing in the form of a slight shimmer on some diagonal lines or patterns. This was never distracting.

    A few tiny film artefacts are scattered throughout, but they are hardly noticeable. The film intentionally has a very grainy look at times. On a few occasions I spotted some minor edge enhancement, but it was never distracting, or even that noticeable.

    21 sets of subtitles are present on the DVD, and the English subtitles are slightly simplified, but accurate.

    This is an RSDL disc, with the layer change placed at 82:11 (at exactly the same spot as the original R4 disc). It is very smooth and not disruptive.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    As the 1998 Oscar winner for Best Sound and Best Sound Effects Editing, Saving Private Ryan provides one of the most aggressive and dazzling displays of a discrete audio mix on DVD.

    There are two audio options on this DVD: English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s) and English dts 5.1 (768Kb/s). Both options are simply awesome. I watched the movie completely with each option, and then carried out blind tests on a number of key scenes. I found that I preferred the dts option for what appeared to be a greater range, and a deeper bass. I noticed in one particular sequence, starting at 142:03, when a German tank crashes over an embankment that the surrounds seem to have greater clarity with the dts option. The sound of the pebbles and stones cascading down the embankment wall sounded a lot more realistic. Interestingly, this is the same scene that appears on my R1 dts demo disc (which showcases a collection of movie clips in dts).

    The dialogue quality and audio sync are excellent on both audio tracks. Obviously during the chaotic battle scenes, a lot of dialogue is lost or inaudible, but this was intended, as it helps present an environment of frustration and confusion.

    The musical score is credited to the great John Williams, who is perhaps best known for his brilliant compositions for the Jaws, Star Wars, Superman, Jurassic Park, Harry Potter, and Indiana Jones movies. Williams has crafted an understated and moody score that carefully creeps beneath the non-battle scenes.

    This is the 175th DVD that I have reviewed for the web site, and without a doubt, this DVD provides one of the very best surround sound experiences for both the Dolby Digital 5.1 and dts formats. The surround presence and activity from both audio options are staggeringly awesome. The frighteningly immersive sound-stage features a great many rear directional effects, and panning between speakers throughout. Perhaps the best example of this starts about four minutes into the movie, with the cacophony of the D-Day landing scene. For about 20 minutes the rears burst to life in what can only be described as a withering aural assault.

    Along with Monsters Inc, I believe that this movie has the very best LFE-heavy audio track that I have ever heard. From booming explosions, to the rumble of tanks, to the thunder of distant artillery, the subwoofer is used very extensively and effectively throughout.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    The extras are on a second disc, and are identical to those included with the original R4 release.


    An animated menu with Dolby Digital Stereo Surround audio.

Featurette - Into The Breach: Saving Private Ryan (25:01)

    Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, with Dolby Digital stereo audio, this featurette includes newsreel footage, and letterboxed clips from the movie. There are also comments by actor Tom Hanks, director Steven Spielberg, historian Stephen E. Ambrose, and by Spielberg's father, and WWII veteran, Arnold Spielberg. A few veterans, and the Niland family (who in part inspired this story), also add their comments.

    Interestingly, about half of Spielberg's movies are set during or around WWII, and he discusses his fascination with the era. There are also a few clips of some of Spielberg's early (home-made) WWII movies.

Theatrical Trailer (2:04)

    Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, with Dolby Digital stereo audio.

Re-Release Theatrical Trailer (1:54)

    Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, with Dolby Digital stereo audio, this trailer focuses on the critical acclaim the movie received.

Cast and Crew

    Brief text-based biographies and stills are supplied for Robert Rodat, Ian Bryce, Gary Levinsohn, Tom Hanks, Tom Sizemore, Edward Burns, Barry Pepper, Adam Goldberg, Vin Diesel, Giovanni Ribisi, Jeremy Davies, Matt Damon, Dennis Farina, Dale Dye, Michael Kahn, and Janusz Kaminski. Sadly, these have not been updated since the original DVD release, so they're quite out-of-date.

Production Notes

    This text-based extra lightly covers the production, from Rodat's original inspiration, through to Speilberg's involvement, and the final film.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    I have owned every DVD version of this film in both R1 and R4, and even originally owned the VHS video. Frustratingly, R4 consumers had to wait years before Saving Private Ryan was released locally (it was one of my very first R1 DVD imports). Now we've had to wait years to get a dts version. However, the end result is that R4 now has the ultimate DVD version. In R1 this movie is available (which much the same extras) in either Dolby Digital 5.1 or dts formats, whereas we get both, with the extras on a second disc.

R1 dts Version (also encoded at 768Kb/s)

    The Region 4 DVD misses out on:

    The Region 1 DVD misses out on:

R1 Dolby Digital 5.1 Version (also encoded at 448Kb/s)

    The Region 4 DVD misses out on:

    The Region 1 DVD misses out on:

    Apart from our superior PAL image, and improved transfer, our version also boasts two discs, the options of both Dolby Digital 5.1 and dts audio formats, and essentially all of the extras. Clearly, the R4 DVD is easily the winner here!


    Saving Private Ryan is an astoundingly good film. This DVD easily gets five stars for both its content, and its presentation (transfer).

    The video quality is excellent.

    The audio quality is simply awesome, and easily makes this one of the ultimate DVD demo discs.

    The extras are limited but good.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Brandon Robert Vogt (warning: bio hazard)
Friday, March 26, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-535, using S-Video output
DisplayGrundig Elegance 82-2101 (82cm, 16x9). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationSony STR DE-545
SpeakersSony SS-V315 x5; Sony SA-WMS315 subwoofer

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Comments (Add)
Not Sure If I Completely Agree... - Anonymous
Disagree - Rhodes_96 (read my bio)
DTS soundtrack far superior - Nick H
Superior PAL ? - The Royal Tenenbaum
RE: Superior PAL ? - Tuttle
A Few Things - Anonymous
Re: MPEG artefacts - Anonymous
One of the best DTS tracks you will hear - Thomas