This Is the Film That Best Salutes World War II Soldiers

Steven Spielberg's 'Saving Private Ryan' remains a masterpiece, with a D-Day opening sequence that has never been matched

On this day in 1944, the beaches of Normandy were stormed by uniformed brave souls working to simply stay alive and keep the men beside them moving onward.

It would go on to become one of history’s most brutal and definitive battles. It was considered a turning point in World War II, and the sacrifices made by both those who perished and those who survived should never be forgotten.

One of the ways the memory of those men and that time in history has lived on is through movies. Many filmmakers have taken a stab at capturing the pure chaos and rugged determination of D-Day, but few have succeeded.

One film above all prevailed in capturing both the horror and the heroics of that day.

Saving Private Ryan” (1998) is worth multiple viewings for its opening sequence alone. Director Steven Spielberg was never better with a camera than when he followed Tom Hanks and a group of actors as they darted through a recreation of D-Day.

It’s harrowing. It’s terrifying. It’s one of the greatest segments of film ever shot.

Related: The Four Best World War II Movies of All Time

The story follows Hanks’ platoon as they’re tasked with going behind enemy lines to retrieve a Pvt. Ryan, the last surviving brother of four.

What makes the mission so captivating, in part, is that we see these men do more in the movie’s opening 20 minutes than many men do in a lifetime.

Related: D-Day and 10 Other Incredible Military Battles

Those who weren’t there on that fateful day will never come close to understanding even a fraction of what those soldiers went through, but this film probably comes as close as one can get.

“Saving Private Ryan” is a brilliantly made meditation on war, patriotism and the sacrifices of those who wear the uniform. It remains one of the most respected and influential war movies ever made, and for good reason.

So if you’re looking for a film to watch that properly salutes those who serve and specifically those who served during World War II, look no further than this one.

PopZette editor Zachary Leeman can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter.

meet the author

PopZette editor Zachary Leeman can be reached at [email protected].