Saving Private Ryan Essay

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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.

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.

Prior, "'We aren't here to do the decent thing': Saving Private Ryan and the Morality of War," pp. First, there is the perspective of the soldier as an individual, concerned with his own survival and with the well-being of his relatives at home.

Four Perspectives There are four distinct perspectives at work in the film.

Each is concerned with the well-being of people: the first, with the agent himself and his family; the second, with the members of the small combat unit; the third, with the citizens of the agent's nation; and the fourth, with human beings in general.

Moreover, each perspective presents the agent with practical obligations that have, or claim to have, an absolute hold on him.

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.


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