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I have been quite amazed by the amount of discussion of this
film on this list.  Someone should really move quickly to
gather together a collection of essays about the film.
After all, there's a collection on _Titanic_ in the works,
and I don't remember as much discussion about that film.
(Perhaps my memory is too selective.)
 
On the "narrative flaws" in _Saving Private Ryan_, I think
the logical coherence of Hollywood film is often
over-emphasized.  General audiences are quite a bit more
flexible in what they expect than devoted fans and even
scholars.  Those in the latter group tend to want to
construct rules and theories, while the general audience
often doesn't care.
 
And filmmakers, of course, will do whatever they think will
elicit a strong response, narrative logic be damned.
 
After all, _All About Eve_ switches narrators, _Sunset
Boulevard_ is narrated by a dead man, and _Brief Encounter_
includes a scene at which the female narrator is not
present:  presumably no one ran screaming from the theaters
clutching their heads in total incomprehension.  Even _The
Usual Suspects_ was just a joyride, as far as most audiences
seemed to be concerned.
 
This comment also returns to another thread on this
list--the one involving unreliable narration.  It seems that
the very status of 'narration' (or what others, inspired by
Genette, call focalization) is very complex and
wide-ranging.
 
Food for thought.
 
Sincerely,
Edward R. O'Neill
UCLA
 
Horak, Chris wrote:
>
> Given the intense discussion this thread had generated on the list, I'm
> surprised no one has mentioned the serious narrative flaws in the film. The
> most troubling of which is the structure of the flashback. While the
> close-up of the as yet unidentified old geezer at the beginning of the film
> cut to the close-up of Tom Hanks' character would lead us to believe that he
> is the narrator of the film, we find out at film's end that it is Private
> Ryan, himself, standing in the cemetery. By that time we know that Ryan was
> never on the Beach on June 6th, that he parachuted behind enemy lines. So
> who is narrating the Omaha Beach sequence and all that transpires before
> Ryan enters the picture?
 
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