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'Private Ryan' Helps Save Us From the Summer

August 01, 1998

Just when you think it's the end of quality movies, or you're going to drown in the murky tides of summer blockbusters and flops, MTV specials, "E! Behind the Scenes," larger-than-life movie trailers promising the next best thing, fast-food tie-ins, weekend gross charts and industry buzz bits, a movie like "Saving Private Ryan" comes along and reminds you of the importance and power of the motion picture medium. It reminds you how, in the hands of people like Steven Spielberg, movies can painfully teach, enlighten and reveal things about ourselves as human beings.

I saw "Saving Private Ryan" opening night with some friends. After the screening, the theater was silent, and we walked out of the theater like ghosts. I could tell by the looks on people's faces that they were trying to make sense of all of the death and violence that they had just witnessed.

I don't think anyone expected that the movie would create such a harsh reality. Everything just hit too close to home for me and I'm not even a veteran. What's scary is that [soldiers] had to experience the real thing.

I felt compelled to talk about the film with my friends (who were also in a daze after the movie) and family but couldn't bring myself to utter a word. That night I couldn't sleep with those images and sounds of horror in my mind. I finally understood why the man in the PBS documentary "A Fighter Pilot's Story" couldn't send the letter that contained gushing emotions about his experiences of the war to his wife. Steven Spielberg's wrath was relentless in this movie, and such is war. I was there in Normandy, God help me, I was there.

JEFF ASIS

Westminster

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