The Omaha Beach scene from Saving Private Ryan (1998) was depicted with so much accuracy to the actual event that the Department of Veteran Affairs set up a telephone hotline for traumatized veterans to cope

460 points

Like it? Share with your friends!

460 points


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. I’ve watched my share of graphic movies but, as much as I love it, I find this movie very difficult to watch. Between this scene and the more intimate scenes where soldiers die, it’s just so real.

  2. I remember seeing that in the theaters and hearing someone behind me sobbing for a good portion of the movie. When the lights turned on there were 3 elderly men behind me wiping their eyes. I’ll never forget that.

  3. My great uncle was in 3rd infantry division who stormed first on one of the beaches. He walked out of the theater during this opening scene.

    He said you’d look for anything to hide behind even the size of a golf ball. Shrapnel tore his leg apart but he considered himself one of the lucky ones, and that’s all I’ve ever gotten out of him. He won’t talk about any of it.

    Edit: for anyone curious, his name is Albert Pyle and he served with Audie Murphy as a fellow platoon leader.

  4. I saw this movie in the theater. There was an elderly couple sitting a couple rows directly in front of me. In the middle of this scene the elderly gentleman stood up, put both hands over his ears and his wife led him out of the theater. It was that moment the movie became very real for me. I still remember it when watching it to this day.

  5. Seen that film over a hundered times.

    Each time you see new things.

    Watch what happens during the medic scene on the beach (the one where the canteen gets shot) in the background.

    Its absurd how much panic can be conveyed in such a small scene.

  6. Still to this day this is one of the most incredible movies I’ve ever seen. Not necessarily in a good way, but also not in a bad way. It’s moving, seeing what probably is the best visual description of what happened on the beaches.

  7. There’s probably a WW2 buff somewhere that can explain it to me, but why on earth did they take the beaches with footsoldiers instead of "simply" bombing them to kingdom come with bomber-planes and warships?

  8. I heard that veterans who were there said that the only thing missing from the scene was the overwhelming incessant dirge of falling mortars; something that if put in the scene would have made it impossible for any other sound to be heard.

  9. My grandfather had to leave the room. It was absolutely heart breaking and the only time I’ve ever seen him with tears in his eyes.

    He killed 12 Nazi’s though. And was very very proud of that.

  10. I remember talking to a D-Day vet who had retired and was volunteering at my office when the movie came out. "All they needed was the smell" he said to me of that scene. I asked what got him off that boat. "My Sgt. would have kicked my butt if I didn’t."

  11. My grandfather was in the Normandy invasion and refused to watch the movie.

    One time, when I told him I was going to visit Normandy on a trip, he said "be sure to look for my footprints there."

    Gave me fucking shivers down my spine.

  12. My hands hurt after watching that scene unconsciously white knuckling the arm rests in the theater. The scene where the Jewish soldier is stabbed with the bayonet stuck with me for weeks after.

  13. Saving Private Ryan is one of my all time favorite movies. Every time I watch it (just rewatched two weeks ago) I cry more during this movie than any other. Storming the beach, Ribisi’s death scene, Vin Diese’s death scene, the nazi being forced to dig his grave, Jeremy Davies cowering in the corner as Adam Goldberg’s character is stabbed to death. This movie is an experience to behold.

  14. Can confirm. Went to the local premiere. Was also in uniform. It fucking wrecked me. Had to go to the restroom to put myself back together. Debated even finishing the movie

  15. I may get this story a bit wrong; it’s been a long time, and this comes from my mother who overheard her father (my grandfather) talking about it to a friend, as he didn’t share serious war stories with the family.

    He was a tank driver, and his tank was the second in line aboard one of the ships on D-Day (I don’t know if it was Omaha beach or not, and I’m not asking my mother; I know almost all tanks were lost at Omaha, and other beaches had better success, so I’m assuming not, but I really don’t know).

    Anyway, they show up at one of the beaches and the front of the ship opens up to let the tanks off – the first tank proceeds to roll out and sink immediately to the bottom, potentially drowning everyone in it: they weren’t close enough to land yet (I know there were survival mechanisms so hopefully some/all got out).

    The horror of that is bad enough, but then my grandfather’s in the next tank. Are they close enough now? They’re also more open to fire with the front down. I can’t even fathom the frame of mind to keep going.

  16. Jesus Christ. As my first time seeing this scene, it’s actually unbelievable to think that about 80 years ago, people my age were storming Omaha. Just watching it made me feel uncomfortable and I was frozen shocked at some moments.

  17. I remember seeing this so vividly. I was 12 years old and this was the first R-rated movie my parents let me watch in theaters. I went with my friend Rhett and we were sitting in the theater waiting for the lights to go down and joking and carrying on. I remember we were talking about how we would’ve done things if we were in WW2. Then it started and it was fucking traumatizing. I felt sick to my stomach and we both sort of sat there in a daze for the whole movie. I remember feeling ‘off’ – like mildly nauseous and uncomfortable – for a couple of weeks afterwards.

    It’s been 22 years and I remember the two images that haunted me the most. The soldier laying on the beach holding in his insides and crying for his mom. And the soldier who got shot through the throat in the last scene and slowly stabbed through the heart by the German soldier. Those two images in particular really fucked me up.

    Nothing else I’ve watched since has impacted me like Saving Private Ryan. And since I’m a jaded old man now I suspect nothing will again.

  18. We watched it with my Grandfather who was on one of the beaches and we had to turn it off. He was crying and didn’t want us kids to see him like that. It was pretty heavy as a kid to see him like that

  19. There are a bunch of photographs and films from the actual invasion that are recreated during the sequence. The man picking up his own arm is one, IIRC, a few of the “hiding behind the tank defenses” shots are blocked just like existing photos, and a bunch of other ones. If you watch World At War, or some of the older documentaries, you’ll recognize some of the shots.

    The level of detail is incredible. Along with Band of Brothers and Schindler’s List, Spielberg contextualized war not only for a generation that grew up with the mythos of WWII, but eventually for the generation who would grow up with the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts.

    It’s an irony to think of how those films affected our National identity at a time when a war that was sold to us as a righteous one like the European theater turned out more like Vietnam.

  20. I believe I saw this at 14 years old, I started bawling IN THE CLASSROOM (yes our teacher put it on, just the beginning to show us Normandy. in Texas this is normal) and I’ve never forgotten the guy crying for his mom holding his guts. I’m turning 29 I’ve never put that movie back on, but I can hear him and see him and the other guys who threw up, the guys who never made it on the sand, the half a corpse he dragged. Still with me in that dark room with other little boys trying not to cry and girls freakin out telling a football coach to “stop it! Stop the movie!!”

  21. I was working at a movie theatre when this came out, and an old guy came in to see it for a second time.

    He told me he’d been part of the D Day invasions, albeit at Utah Beach. He said that scene was as close as possible to his experience. Still think of that man every time I watch the movie.

  22. My dad didn’t storm the beach but from what I remember him telling me, he arrived shortly after everything had gone down. We got him this movie for some holiday (I wanna say father’s day) but he started sobbing and we had to stop the movie just a few minutes in. I always felt bad for giving him the movie. I also wish I had recorded some of the stories he told me before he died. He passed on at the age of 95 back in 2016.

  23. Source:

    edit: some more. The former source has some WWII vets weighing on the acuracy of the scene:

    >Soldier 101st Airborne Division, Dick Winters said that “Ryan” finally gave people the opportunity to understand how veterans feel. According to an elderly man, in 1998 he sent out more than 100 letters to his friends with the advice of watching a movie.

    >“It’s hard to talk to someone who wasn’t there. These are not just memories. They don’t even know what to ask. I think [thanks to the film] they will feel it. After watching, they will understand why, after returning from the war, I insisted on buying a farm for the sake of peace and quiet, ”said an elderly man.

    >On June 5, 2019, journalist Ben Mankiewicz released a large column on how “Saving Private Ryan” gave him the opportunity to speak frankly for the first time with his father in World War II. The veteran described the picture as “The most accurate description of the battles he had ever seen in a movie.”

    >On instructions from the authorities, Mankiewicz himself watched a picture with two veterans – one went through World War II and the other went to the war in Vietnam. Both of them had never seen each other before, but after the final credits they shared experiences that they had never before told about and burst into tears.

    >When they finished [the stories], they hugged and cried. A Vietnamese veteran promised to go home and share his stories with teenage daughters with whom he never discussed the war. Even if in the end he did not do this (I will never know), it was overwhelming to watch such a reaction.
    Ben Mankiewiczamerican journalist

    Just pinning it so it doesn’t get lost in the comments.

What's Your Reaction?

hate hate
confused confused
fail fail
fun fun
geeky geeky
love love
lol lol
omg omg
win win

Choose A Format
Personality quiz
Series of questions that intends to reveal something about the personality
Trivia quiz
Series of questions with right and wrong answers that intends to check knowledge
Voting to make decisions or determine opinions
Formatted Text with Embeds and Visuals
The Classic Internet Listicles
The Classic Internet Countdowns
Open List
Submit your own item and vote up for the best submission
Ranked List
Upvote or downvote to decide the best list item
Upload your own images to make custom memes
Youtube, Vimeo or Vine Embeds
Soundcloud or Mixcloud Embeds
Photo or GIF
GIF format