The historical accuracy of Saving Private Ryan
Written by Patricia Schneider
On June 6, 1944 the ‘greatest amphibious attack in history’ took place: the Normandy was invaded in order to free France from German suppression. Thus, this historical event provides both an interesting subject and a richness of material for movie-makers. One movie that tries to depict this historical day is Saving Private Ryan, the historical accuracy of which is to be examined in this essay. At first, the period of time in which the movie is set will be examined and the depiction of the landing at Omaha beach will be observed in detail. Afterwards, the historical accuracy of the plot presented in this movie will be analyzed. The essay will conclude by illuminating the different messages the movie tries to convey.
Saving Private Ryan is set during the invasion of Normandy in World War II which ultimately led to the liberation of France. Heale states that after the war had been going on for several years ‘the Soviet Union, desperately fending off the Nazi invasion, wanted Britain and the United States […] to open a second front in France.’ Since, however, Churchill considered this plan as premature, the undertaking was delayed for several years. Ironically, the pressure to put this plan into practice was increased when the Soviet forces won the bloody battle of Stalingrad. Since the US and British forces feared that the German dominion of Europe would be replaced by a Russian dominion, Operation Overlord was planned. According to the plan for operation, American, British and Canadian troops were to invade on five beaches in the Normandy that were codenamed from east to west Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword. However, the movie does not attempt to portray the whole invasion but covers only one part of it: the invasion of Omaha beach by American soldiers.
 Heale, M.J. Twentieth Century America: Politics and Power in the United States 1900 – 2000 (London, 2004), p. 136.
 Heale, M.J. Twentieth Century America p. 135.
 Heale, M.J. Twentieth Century America, p. 135.
 Heale, M.J. Twentieth Century America, p. 136.
 Keegan, John, The Second World War, (London, 1989), p. 316.