SAVING PRIVATE RYAN vs. THE LONGEST DAY
This is the third annual finals of the March Madness War Movies Tournament. This year’s competition was to determine the best WWII ground combat movie. Sixteen movies entered the tournament and after watching all sixteen, reviewing them, and comparing them in various categories, we are down to the last two. There were some surprises along the way, but we ended up with the two top seeds in the finals.
It’s a fascinating match-up. One is an Old School battle epic classic with an all-star cast that was filmed in black and white. The other is from the modern VioLingo School that uses all the bells and whistles available today. Interestingly, the two finalists are both about D-Day and they present a macroview (TLD) and a microview (SPR). They make perfect companions for not only educating and entertaining the audience, but for recognizing the participants in Operation Overlord.
The tournament always concludes with a recap of the movies’ past scores. It comes down to the calculator.
Acting 9 10
Cliches 8 6
Plot 10 8
Combat 9 10
Realism 8 9
Dialogue 8 9
Soldier Behavior 9 8
Entertainment Value 10 10
Technical Advisors 10 Effects 10
Educational Value 10 Characters 8
Balance 10 Deaths 10
Accuracy 8 Implausibilities 6
Total 109 103
Congratulations to “The Longest Day” for winning this year’s tournament. The Finals was pretty competitive, but TLD was the comfortable winner. While TLD was consistently strong in all the categories, SPR was let down by two areas where it has gotten a lot of criticism from war movie fans: clichés and plausibility. The spectacular acting and combat makes it one of the great war movies, but it does have some cringe-inducing elements (e.g., the evil German) to please the general public.
TLD has no weaknesses as a war movie. I am sure there are non-purists that gripe about the black and white, the length, and the fact that you have to read subtitles! But from a war movie fan’s standpoint, it is hard to see how it could be better given when it was made. I am not even sure a modern remake would be superior. The combat would be more realistic, but we have SPR to cover that. Watch them together.