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September 1998, Week 1


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Donald Larsson <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Wed, 2 Sep 1998 16:09:03 -0500
TEXT/PLAIN (46 lines)
Scott Hutchins replies:
> This seems a different type of unreliable narrator.  Here we have an old
> man's memories, much of which are things he only knows verbally, but he
> doesn't seem like an untrustworhty character, despite his whole barns
> story.  Nor is there really anyhting about him which sugggests we should
> not trust him.
> Scott
> On Sat, 22 Aug 1998, Ilene S. Goldman wrote:
> > How about Saving Private Ryan?
I suspect that what Ilene is alluding to is something that bothered me
and my wife as well when we saw the film.  At the opening, we see an
old man and his family at a seaside walk by what proves to be the
burial ground of the Allied dead.  As he stands by one of the graves,
the camera moves into a closeup of his eye (time-honored signifier for
an impending flashback), and we find ourselves staring at Tom Hanks'
shaking hand as he waits with others to hit the beach on D-Day.
Now, I was taken aback by this at first, since I didn't think that the
old man looked that much like Tom Hanks, but when I saw Matt Damon I
realized that he had to be Pvt. Ryan!  And, of course, that realization
is borne out at the end of the film.
The "unreliability" in question is whether the audience has been
tricked into believing that the flashback that constitutes almost all
of the film belongs to Hanks' character and implies, therefor, that he
survived the war.  That's the way my wife and I read the film at least!
Don Larsson
Donald Larsson, Mankato State U (MN)
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