Saving Private Ryan: The World War II Collection (1998)

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Released 9-Nov-2004

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category War Main Menu Audio & Animation
Introduction-Steven Spielberg
Featurette-Looking Into The Past
Featurette-Miller And His Platoon
Featurette-Boot Camp
Featurette-Making Of
Featurette-Re-creating Omaha Beach
Featurette-Music and Sound
Featurette-Parting Thoughts
Short Film-Price For Peace, With Introduction By Steven Spielberg
Featurette-Tom Brokaw Commentary, WWII Dog Handlers
Featurette-Introduction ToThe National D-Day Museum And Slide Show
Featurette-Ambrose About The War Experience
Gallery-Photo
Short Film-Shooting War
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 1998
Running Time 162:31
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Multi Disc Set (4)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Programme
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Steven Spielberg
Studio
Distributor

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 $54.95 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 No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

    Please note that Paramount Home Entertainment did not provide us with a complete DVD set of this title to review, instead only providing us with the extras discs included with this release. They have assured us that the movie disc itself in this set is identical to that previously released (and reviewed). Accordingly, I do not feel it is my place to give a review of the plot as I have not seen this WWII Collection Commemorative Edition.

    Instead, we will reproduce relevant sections of Brandon V’s review below, which will give you an accurate plot rundown of the last release of the movie.
 


    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.

    "Fubar!"

    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

Video

    Please note that Paramount Home Entertainment did not provide us with a complete DVD set of this title to review, instead only providing us with the extras discs included with this release. They have assured us that the movie disc itself in this set is identical to that previously released (and reviewed). Without the review disc, I cannot give you details of the video transfer.

    Instead, we will again reproduce the relevant part of Brandon V’s review below.
 


    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
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    Please note that Paramount Home Entertainment did not provide us with a complete DVD set of this title to review, instead only providing us with the extras discs included with this release. They have assured us that the movie disc itself in this set is identical to that previously released (and reviewed). Without the review disc, I cannot give you details of the audio transfer.

    Instead, we will yet again reproduce the relevant part of Brandon V’s review below.
 


    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
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    Although we do not have the movie, Paramount Home Entertainment have provided us with review discs of the special features discs.

Disc 2

Menu

    The main menu on the second disc is presented in 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced with a 2.0 Dolby Surround audio track of a softer piece of the score.

Featurette: “An Introduction by Steven Spielberg” (2:35)

    Presented in 1.33:1, 2.0 Dolby Surround. This is a short featurette in which Spielberg talks about his long interest in war movies and WWII history and how he came to make this movie.

Featurette: “Looking Into The Past” (4:41)

    Presented in 1.33:1, 2.0 Dolby Surround. This is another short featurette in which Spielberg discusses researching the movie and how he wanted it to look.

Featurette: “Miller and His Platoon” (8:23)

    Presented in 1.33:1, 2.0 Dolby Surround. This featurette has the various cast members talking about their characters and how they evolved from the screenplay.

Featurette: “Boot Camp” (7:38)

    Presented in 1.33:1, 2.0 Dolby Surround. This featurette has the various cast members talking about their characters and how they evolved from the screenplay.

Featurette: “Making Saving Private Ryan” (22:05)

    Presented in 1.33:1, 2.0 Dolby Surround, this is a fairly extensive making-of and is definitely worth a look.

Featurette: “Re-Creating Omaha Beach” (17:58)

    Presented in 1.33:1, 2.0 Dolby Surround. This featurette looks at the techniques used to recreate the invasion of Omaha – choosing of location, technical aspects, getting the gear right, and so forth – and make it so brutally realistic.

Featurette: “Editing, Music, Sound” (16:01)

    Presented in 1.33:1, 2.0 Dolby Surround. This featurette looks at the sound design and film techniques that were used, particularly to recreate the battle sequences of D-Day, and the use of John Williams’ fantastic score.

Featurette: “Parting Thoughts” (3:44)

    Presented in 1.33:1, 2.0 Dolby Surround. In this featurette, Hanks and Spielberg discuss their afterthoughts on the making of the movie.

Disc 3

Documentary: “Price For Peace” (88:11)

    Presented in 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced, English 5.1 Dolby Digital, this is a fabulous documentary that looks at the conflict in the Pacific theatre and all the various D-Days on each of the islands closing in on Japan. This is on a dual-layered disc, with the pause coming at 40:10 during a fade-to-black for an ad break where I nearly missed it.

Menus

    All menus are presented in 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced with a 2.0 Dolby Surround audio track of the score for the documentary. The chapter selection menu has motion selections with about 12 seconds of footage.

Introduction By Steven Spielberg (1:44)

    Presented in 1.33:1, 2.0 Dolby Surround, Spielberg talks about this documentary and his thoughts on the Pacific theatre of war.

Commentary By NBC Presenter Tom Brokaw (3:13)

    Presented in 1.33:1, 2.0 Dolby Surround, these are a couple of short segments from the special “Memorial Day” broadcast of this documentary on NBC.

Featurette: “WWII Dog Handlers” (7:07)

    Presented in 1.33:1, 2.0 Dolby Surround, this short featurette involves an interview with a vet who was a dog handler during WWII.

Trailer: “Introduction To National D-Day Museum” (0:30)

    Presented in 1.33:1, 2.0 Dolby Surround.

Slide Show: “National D-Day Museum” (0:54)

    Presented in 1.33:1, 2.0 Dolby Surround, this is a slide show of photos on display at the museum, but also really serves as a promo for the museum.

Featurette: “Ambrose About The War Experience” (4:58)

    Presented in 1.33:1, 2.0 Dolby Surround, this is a short interview with historian Stephen E. Ambrose about getting veterans to talk about their experiences in the war. Much of this interview was used in the documentary.

Photo Gallery

    A series of 23 inset stills on the making of the documentary.

Disc 4

Documentary: “Shooting War” (88:06)

    Presented in 1.33:1, 2.0 Dolby Surround, this documentary looks at all the war correspondents from the Second World War and their role in recording the horrors of war for all time.

Menus

    All menus on this disc are presented in 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced with a 2.0 Dolby Surround audio track of the score for the documentary. The chapter selection menu has motion selections with about 12 seconds of footage.

R4 vs R1

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

    Without a copy of the movie, I cannot tell you exactly of the differences between regions. However, what I can tell you is that the special features of the R1 release of this WWII Collection Commemorative Edition are the same as those on the R4 release. It would appear only that the R4 release has many more subtitle options making it more multiculturally friendly.

Summary

    I cannot give you an overall view of the film's audio-visual transfer as we were not supplied with a review disc of the movie itself, although we were assured that the disc is identical to that previously released.

    What I can tell you is that the extras on Disc 3 and Disc 4 are extremely good. Whether they justify purchasing the movie again just for the new features is something you will have to decide for yourself.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Edward McKenzie (I am Jack's raging bio...)
Saturday, May 28, 2005
Review Equipment
DVDPanasonic DVD-RV31A-S, using S-Video output
DisplayBeko 28" (16x9). This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver.
AmplificationMarantz SR7000
SpeakersEnergy - Front, Rear, Centre & Subwoofer

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
dts soundtrack - Anonymous
I agree, one of the best DTS sound I've heard - Pendergast (Why not take a look at my bio, you might think it stinks.)
Where to buy? - BT