In interviews promoting the release of his 1998 film SAVING PRIVATE RYAN, Steven Spielberg said he had in the 30-minute opening 'Omaha Beach'-sequence intended to render war and warfare as realistically as possible: war evoked as it really was and really is. This essay suggests that in attempting to create greater 'realism' Spielberg and his team broke in a striking wag with traditional 'classic' forms of realism in order to solicit an effect of extreme bodily and emotional engagement.Further, this paper examines whether physical response effect of movies on viewers in the so-called 'body genres' as described in recent articles can be applied to the Omaha Beach-sequence as well. Moreover, the attention this sequence received seems to reveal a distinct change in expectations of a war film, both from an American and a European point of view. Finally, the present article claims to clarify how the visceral body effects in SAVING PRIVATE RYAN are to be understood, and how this new method as applied in a war film relates to the contemporary discourse on filmmaking.

media history, war, film
Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision
Tijdschrift voor Mediageschiedenis
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TMG Journal for Media History; Vol 5, No 1 (2002); 50-66

Turnock, Julie. (2002). 'A cataclysm of carnage, nausea, and death'. SAVING PRIVATE RYAN and visceral engagement. Tijdschrift voor Mediageschiedenis, 5(1), 50–66. doi:10.18146/tmg.517