In this essay I examine Spielberg's film, focusing on the relations among the several moral perspectives presented in it. This aspect of the film is even more important, in my view, than the film's realism.
The character Captain John Miller in the movie "Saving Private Ryan" played by Tom Hanks represents the ideal soldier in a time of great despair.
He shows courage and bravery throughout every scene.
These frameworks are related to each other in complex ways.
They support each other, but they also conflict with each other, as I hope to show.
The Individual Perspective The perspective of the soldier as an individual might well be called the perspective of the soldier as a civilian.
(When I speak of the "individual" I do not mean that term in a narrow sense, one which prescinds from all family connections, but in a broad sense, which places the person in the context of his family and home.) The men in Captain Miller's unit identify themselves with their pre-military lives, with who they were "back home." We see this repeatedly in the film: they evoke the image of home to explain themselves to others.His troops will not disagree with him because of the respect he has for his authority; thus they have the utmost respect for him.Captain Miller shows many attributes of being the right person for the job in the search for Private Ryan. Less often appreciated is the film's sustained discussion of the morality of war. -- RHT teven Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan has been justly praised as the most realistic portrait of combat on film. The essay that follows, however, is not so much a review of the film as it is an exploration of lasting issues of morality in warfare, using the movie as a springboard for discussion. Editor's note: It may seem a bit long after the release to be "reviewing" Steven Spielberg's award-winning movie Saving Private Ryan.Fourth and finally, there is the universal perspective of the soldier as one moral agent among many, including the soldiers on the other side.The fourth perspective is the one we normally associate in the contemporary world with the word "morality." It is important to note, however, that each of the perspectives above is, or can be seen as, a moral or ethical framework.From the perspective of the individual, the mission of saving Private Ryan is a colossal mistake; or, as they describe it in the language of the GI, "fubar." Captain Miller's unit is being sent to rescue Ryan so that he may be sent home to his mother.But why should Ryan be deserving of such treatment?