One could make the argument that the main theme of Steven Spielberg’s World War II film Saving Private Ryan is the ambivalence of morality. Much is made during the course of the film’s opening sequences about the suffering inherent in war and the sacrifices made by individuals and families. War involves sacrifices.
Many of those sacrifices are idealized as made in the interest of the preservation of liberty, and that is fair and usually accurate. Many of those sacrifices take place out of love for one’s fellow soldiers, sailors, airmen or Marines. In other words, the broader national goal is subordinated out in the field to the more personal goal of getting him alive while helping one’s colleagues similarly return alive to their families.
At the film’s core, however, is the question of the morality of sacrificing one’s life for the preservation of that of another when that other is a complete stranger and the number to be sacrificed for the benefit of the one is many. Captain...
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