Face-Off:'Saving Private Ryan' vs 'The Thin Red Line'

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2 different stories, 2 different fronts, 2 great movies, which one would you choose?
List: https://www.imdb.com/list/ls023288958/
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Adrian Marsel

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Posted 1 year ago

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Stephen N Russell

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Saving Pvt Ryan, no story to other.
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Dan Dassow, Champion

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Hi Adrian Marsel (AKA aryanmarsel),

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Adrian Marsel

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fixed up
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Dan Dassow, Champion

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Adrian,

Thank you for adding the link back.
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rubyfruit76, Champion

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Hi Adrian and welcome to poll authoring and the GS board. :)

I'd go with 'Thin Red Line.'

Here's a short list of tips about Face-Off polls: https://getsatisfaction.com/imdb/topics/face-offs-requested-a-few-notes
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Adrian Marsel

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Fixed up
(Edited)
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ElM.

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I tried again Spielberg's "Ryan" but I stick to my guns, this is a wonderfully directed movie and the opening sequence is a milestone of film-making BUT it's so typical of Spielberg's tendency to force-feed the audience with simplistic emotions (good vs. bad, humanistic vs. barbarian etc. etc.) it's not a bad thing in absolute terms, but he never tries to be nuanced and subtle for a change, and my guess is that's why Spielberg, of all the baby-boom directors, is the only one who didn't tackle Vietnam War, because he needs a clean war like World War 2 with objective heroes and objective villains, something emotionally but never intellectually engaging.

Even when I got deeper in the story, I simply hated that "Earn this" quote, it's not like Ryan asked for something, he was ready to die like any GI, or soldier, he didn't want any favor, but now he's got to live up with the memory that six or seven of America's finest men indirectly died because of him, you can tell it from his breakdown in the cemetery. I understand Miller simply asked him to become a man who was worth this sacrifice but talk about an existential burden. Actually, that bit is perhaps more interesting than the way I make it sound now that I think about it:)
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rubyfruit76, Champion

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this is a wonderfully directed movie and the opening sequence is a milestone of film-making BUT it's so typical of Spielberg's tendency to force-feed the audience with simplistic emotions 

That not only sums up this movie really well but Spielberg in general. He is so terrifically talented and constructs films so well but, with a few notable exceptions, doesn't seem to unhinge himself from transparency taken to an extreme and emotional and moral simplicity. I hope that someone that he respects finally insists, "Come on, Spielberg, you're smarter than that" (or perhaps, "There are audiences that are smarter than that") and that he listens. Wow, what he could do if he did. 
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ElM.

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Exactly. And I was shocked last week when I saw "Close Encounters", it was not the version I remembered and why? Because Spielberg's struck again!

There is a moment in "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" where a mysterious light is peeking behind Richard Dreyfus' car, its sudden and ominous presence isn't without reminding of Steven Spielberg's former hit "Jaws". And the way that scene alone is played showed how remarkably ingenuous young Spielberg was. This scene is perhaps the film's best moment because the device was previously used to accentuate a threat and is now recycled for a different impact.

This scene is also the film's most memorable moment because it encapsulates the film's title, we witness the "close encounter" between average Joe family man Roy Neary and a mysterious light. The remarkable thing about the title is that it doesn't use any sci-fi word, it's not an Alien, not an ET, not a Thing from another world, but a Third Kind. Didn't I just drop a few iconic titles? Have you noticed that so many sci-fi movies use inevitably an explicit genre indicator in the title? Now, how great is that title? Well, ask yourself, what if "Jaws" was called "Shark"? 

Indeed, what we have here is a classic of science-fiction keeping the lowest possible profile for most of it. We never really see what provides the light, we never really see the aliens... what we're left with are lights, a mysterious ringing sound that became one of the most instantly recognizable tunes of cinema's history, a mysterious form a bunch of people tried to replicate and telekinetic powers. What do all these elements have in common? They're all from the perspective of humans, and this plays with the same level of thrills as the shark in "Jaws", we don't see the creature but its effect on people.

Think about it, when you go to a funeral? What makes you cry? The sight of the deceased one, or the sight of people crying? Fear scares, sadness saddens, and all the bizarre phenomena occurring after the titular close encounter create the same level of frustration and puzzlement. There's this unforgettable scene where Neary sculpts the Devil's Tower with the mashed potatoes and realizing that he's being carefully observed, breaks out of tears because more than his condition, there is the lack of understanding. Watch the reaction of his boy slowly turning from astonishment to genuine sadness.

Watch also how the ballet of lights and moving things starts as something amusing in Melinda Dillon's place until going out of control and the poor woman is forced to endure a nightmare that her son seems to enjoy. The third common thread is the investigation lead by Frenchman Lacombe, collecting all the piece of evidence about mysterious reappearances of WW2 planes and people in India chanting the iconic tune. Of all the actors, it had to be François Truffaut, he's actually quite convincing as Lacombe and works as another relatively unknown face in a movie that went for unglamorous casting (Teri Garr plays Dreyfus' wife).

What all these build-up scenes have in common is that they never indirectly reveal what it's all about, and that's why their impact is tremendous on the field of storytelling. I would go as far as saying that the film could have worked with an even shorter climax and longer set-up because this is a case of sci-fi movie rooted in a reality. The film was released in 1977, it's like the realistic and gripping Yin to "Star Wars" epic and operatic "Yang". While George Lucas's game-changing classic had paved the way to the blockbuster era, Spielberg's was still impregnated with the New Hollywood vibe, and that's why I loved it, and that's why I admire young Spielberg.

Unfortunately, it seems like old Spielberg is once again his worst enemy, and decided to touch a close-to-perfect film. I don't know why but the film I saw yesterday wasn't the one I remembered and I fail to see what good did the changes provide. The encounter lasts for so long, it's not an encounter anymore, I remember it consisting on Neary seeing a bright light and that was it. Here we get a car chase between little UFOs and police cars so where's the mystery? Not only does it make impossible to believe no one saw them, despite the blackout, but it makes all the more impossible to believe that only a few people di, how about the cops? No one had a camera for God's sake?

The initial encounter could pass as a furtive one, one a few people could witness and that would forever change their lives, but the new version was so spectacular and an orgy of special effects that it did something I didn't expect: suspend my disbelief, which is the antithesis of the film's spirit. The other problem is with the ending, the initial climax was the most emotional reward to one hour and half of sheer mystery, it was overwhelming, weirdly inspirational as if Spielberg was finally relieving us from these existential undertones and showed us that indeed we weren't alone in the Universe. 

But wouldn't have been the lights enough? I do remember seeing aliens in the previous versions, and it was perhaps the small criticism I had, for me, the alien had to be kept hidden, in shadows, the close-up on the alien waving goodbye was so 'typical', so classic that it kind of undermined the sober approach the film initially took, but we know old Spielberg and sober make two, if the initial version was a reminiscence of "Jaws", this one is played like "Jurassic Park" where we're marveled by the UFO ever since the close encounter begins and nothing is left surprising. 

Once again Spielberg shows that he has lost his touch when it comes to judging his work, with this new cut, he turned a close to perfect classic to a good, sometimes great, film, one that could have been titled "Encounters with the Aliens", it's like all the magic of the title has been lost.
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Stephen Atwood

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The Thin Red Line didn't give me the worst headaches I've ever experienced from watching a movie.  Also the first time I almost vomited at the movie theater from extreme motion sickness.


Saving Private Ryan with its many great moments also had its Tom Hanks schlockiness as well.


The Thin Red Line gets my much revered vote.
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Stephen N Russell

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Saving Pvt Ryan
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rubyfruit76, Champion

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Hi Adrian, I hope you're still around. :)

I cast my vote above but may I suggest a few edits? (They're below in bold - the last is just a semi-colon instead of a comma after "movies.")

Two different stories, two different fronts, two great movies; which one would you choose?
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තරිඳු ධනංජය/Thorin

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This one is tough. :/
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rubyfruit76, Champion

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