Steven Spielberg’s 1998 film Saving Private Ryan took war movies to another level. The realism and attention to detail were unprecedented. Seventeen years later, let’s find out a bit of what went on behind the scenes to bring the project together.
2. STEVEN SPIELBERG WAS INSPIRED TO DIRECT THE MOVIE BECAUSE OF HIS FATHER.
Spielberg directed Saving Private Ryan as a tribute to his father, Arnold Spielberg, who served in the U.S. Army and Signal Corps, and fought in Burma during World War II as a radio operator in a B-25 squad. Arnold also helped a young Steven to direct his first movies as a teenager, both of which involved plots that took place during World War II. Escape to Nowhere was a 40-minute behind enemy lines movie that a young Spielberg shot with his friends, while Fighter Squad was shot at the Sky Harbor Airport hangar in Phoenix, Arizona, which conveniently housed grounded former WWII fighter planes that the young Spielberg and his friends used, but didn’t fly.
3. IT’S PARTLY BASED ON A TRUE STORY.
Contrary to popular belief, Saving Private Ryan is not based on the Sullivan brothers, a group of five brothers who were all killed in action while serving in the US Navy during World War II on the USS Juneau. The movie is actually based on the Niland brothers, four siblings who all served in the US Army during World War II. Three brothers—Robert, Preston, and Edward—were supposedly killed in action, which caused their remaining brother, Fritz (whom the titular Private Ryan was based on) to be shipped back to America so that the Niland family wouldn’t lose all of their sons. Edward, who was originally thought dead, was actually found alive after escaping a Japanese prison camp in Burma, making two surviving brothers out of the four who fought in the war.
You can read more about the Sullivan brothers and the Niland brothers in previous articles. And you’ll learn a lot more about what into Saving Private Ryan -especially the opening D-Day scene- at mental_floss.