Describe the setting in Saving Private Ryan.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The initial setting in Saving Private Ryan  is Normandy, France on June 6, 1944.  D- Day is the setting for the first 30 minutes of the film.  The idea of showing Normandy reflecting the intensity in "the jaws of death" is the film's opening.  It helps to emphasize the casualty count as the Allied forces prepared to take French position away from the Germans.  The focused energy of the setting contributes to the plot of the film.  The number of soldiers who do not survive the initial wave hits one family particularly hard.  The Ryan family lost three of their sons during the invasion.  It is from this where the setting impacts the plot, as the need to find one Private Ryan becomes the focal point of the film's narrative.

The setting impacts the plot as it reflects the narrative of the war.  As Captain Miller and his band of men make greater inroads into the mainland, it helps to parallel the Allied movement against the Germans. The settings of Vierville and Ramelle reflect the American advancement against the Axis powers.  They also reflect the challenging nature of war, as complexities in both characterizations and the mission present themselves.  The closer they get to Private Ryan is a reflection of the war's outcome towards the side of the Allies. In Ramelle, the final stand between Ryan and "his brothers" against the Germans is where the ending idea of "earning" it becomes evident.  It is in this way where the setting has another impact upon the plot.

The setting of World War II and the Allied invasion of Normandy sets the entire film in motion.  Omaha Beach, D- Day, and the intense nature of the war is what helps to define the American soldier in the World War II experience.  The setting of the film frames the film, encompassing how characters interact with one another, and helps to place the plot in motion.  The setting of D- Day is what progresses the film, and helps to provide its thematic importance as a statement about the arduous conditions faced in war.

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