I’m sure most of us can still recall the visceral reaction that we had to the opening sequences of Steven Spielberg’s masterful WWII drama Saving Private Ryan. Once the movie settles into its narrative framework, Spielberg drops us into the D-Day invasion on the beaches of Normandy, and we begin to feel like we are members of the battalion that are following Tom Hanks and his soldiers into battle. It’s immersive and devastating… and it had a similar effect on the men who were filming the sequence for us to watch later on the big screen.
We have made arguments on CinemaBlend over the years that Saving Private Ryan is both Steven Spieberg’s best movie as well as Matt Damon’s best movie. It’s harder to rank it on a list of the best Tom Hanks’ films because he has participated in so many stone-cold classics. When stopping by the ReelBlend podcast to discuss his new film, Elvis, however, Hanks recalled the shocking moment when he realized that Saving Private Ryan was going to be something extraordinary. As he recalled:
He wasn’t exaggerating. The beach scene in Saving Private Ryan is disorienting and terrifying because of the intense way it plunges the audience directly into the warfare, and reminds us at every step that these were normal men unprepared for the extent of the carnage. Veterans have spoken about the sequence, calling it one of the most realistic war movies ever made. And Hanks credits that to the approach that his frequent collaborator Steven Spielberg brings to material. As he opened up about Spielberg’s process, Hanks figured out how to tie it back to Austin Butler’s work as Elvis Presley in the new film Elvis, which Baz Luhrmann filmed out of sequence. Hanks explained:
You can enjoy the full Tom Hanks interview on the ReelBlend podcast as part of this week’s show.
And you can head to theaters now to see Tom Hanks play Col. Tom Parker opposite Austin Butler’s Elvis in Elvis. We gave Elvis a solid review on the Website, but it pales in comparison to the praise the Presley family showered on the movie. That’s really all that Hanks and Butler (as well as Luhrmann) needed to hear. But judge for yourself, as Elvis is open in movie theaters right now!
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Sean O’Connell is a journalist and CinemaBlend’s Managing Editor. Sean created ReelBlend, which he proudly cohosts with Jake Hamilton and Kevin McCarthy. And he's the author of RELEASE THE SNYDER CUT, the Spider-Man history book WITH GREAT POWER, and an upcoming book about Bruce Willis.