“The solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom”
Those who know me would hardly call me a sentimental person, nor one to favour the emotive side of cinema over the dramatic and shocking. But even I could not help but be moved by the brilliant dramatisation of Lincoln’s famous Bixby letter, read out by Harve Presnell, whilst he and his staff debate the justification and reasoning behind Private Ryan’s rescue. I love Presnell’s gruff and sober delivery of the narrative , and when he glances up to the rest of the men after saying “five”. There is also real emotive tension that leads through the letter’s futility in condolence, to end with the General Marshall’s unaided reciting of the final passage.
Regardless of the factual account of the real letter and its authenticity, there is no doubt that the scene, and indeed the film, needed the beautifully written and heart wrenching message in the letter. Personally, I think the plot needed so poignant a message, for no other reason than to justify the ridiculousness of sending out some of your most valuable assets for just one man. The mission does seem on the face of it, as they say, “fubar”. But by reminding the viewer of the human cost at just the right time, most will get caught up in the emotion, and miss what is arguably a giant loop hole in possibly the best war film to date.
I hope you enjoyed my Movie Clip of the Week, look out for next week’s. If you have any ideas for scenes please let me know!