EDITORrnThomas FlemingrnSENIOR EDITOR, BOOKSrnChilton Williamson, Jr.rnMANAGING EDITORrnScott P. RichertrnART DIRECTORrnH. Ward SterettrnCONTRIBUTING EDITORSrnHarold O.]. Brown, KatherinernDalton, Samuel Francis,rnGeorge Garrett, Paul Gottfried,rn/.O. Tate, Michael Washburn,rnClyde WilsonrnCORRESPONDING EDITORSrnBill Kauffman, Donald Livingston,rnWilliam Milk, William Murchison,rnAndrei Navrozov, Jacob Neusner,rnSrdja TrifkovicrnEDITORIAL SECRETARYrnLeann DobbsrnPUBLISHERrnThe Rockford InstituternPUBLICATION DIRECTORrnGuy C. ReffettrnCIRCULATION MANAGERrnCindy LinkrnA publication of The Rockford Institute.rnEditorial and Advertising Offices:rn928 North Main Street, Rockford, IL 61103.rnEditorial Phone: (815)964-5054,rnAdvertising Phone: (815)964-5813.rnSubscription Department: P.O. Box 800,rnMount Monis,IL 61054. Call 1-800-877-5459.rnU.S..A. Newsstand Distribution by Eastern NewsrnDistributors, Inc., One Media Way, 12406 Rt. 250rnMilan, Ohio 44848-9705rnCopyright© 1999 by The Rockford Institute.rnAll rights reserved.rnChronicles (ISSN 0887-5731) is publishedrnmontlily for $39.00 (foreign subscriptions add $12rnfor surface delivery, $48 for Air Mail) per year byrnThe Rockford Institute, 928 Nortli Main Street,rnRockford, IL 61103-7061. Preferred periodicalrnpostage paid at Rockford, IL and additional mailingrnoffices. POSTMASTER: Send address changesrnto Chronicles, P.O. Box 800, Mount Morris,rnIL 61054.rnThe rews expressed in Chronicles are thernauthors’ alone and do not necessarily reflectrntlie ‘iews of The Rockford Institute or of itsrndirectors. Unsolicited manuscripts cannot bernretimied unless accompanied by a self-addressedrnstamped envelope.rnChroniclesrnVol. 2^, No. 5 Marcli 1999rnFrinlecl in llic Dniled SIJIL^ orAiiiericurnPOLEMICS & EXCHANGESrnOn Saving Private RyanrnWayne Allensworth, in his poignant andrnbeautifully written review of Saving PrivaternRyan (“The Face of Battle,” January),rnfocuses on what is right with thernfilm. However, I find much that isrnwrong, and, for me, the wrong outweighsrnthe right. Nonetheless, Steven Spielbergrnmakes an important contribudon to thernmaking of war movies by realistically portrayingrnthe blood, gore, death, and horrorrnthat is an inescapable consequence ofrnbattle. His depiction of the landing atrnOmaha Beach ought to remind allrnAmericans that we should not put ourrnboys in harm’s way without our nationalrnsecurity at stake and without a well-definedrnmission. We had such in WorldrnWar II. We have not had such since.rnSaving Private Ryan has great cinematography,rnaction direction, and specialrneffects. These are Spielberg’srnstrengths—and he might be the best inrnthe business at them. Yet his weaknessesrnare many, and they may all be tracedrnback to one: He does not seem to understandrnmen or what it means to be a man.rnHe certainly does not understand thernAmerican man of past generations.rnSaving Private Ryan opens with an oldrnman — we learn later that he is Pvt.rnRyan —not walking but shuffling to thernAmerican cemetery at Normandy. He isrnbent, broken, and pathetic. His wife,rnchildren, and grandchildren walk behindrnhim with exaggerated expressionsrnon their faces, at once patronizing,rnpained, and inane. His face reveals nornpride, strength, courage, resoluteness, orrngumption; only weakness, fear, andrnguilt—Spielberg’s American man. Thernmovie ends with the old man at therngravesite of Capt. Miller. The group ofrnchildren and grandchildren stand in thernbackground, still mugging for the camera.rnThe old man asks his wife, “Tell mernI’ve lived a good life. Have I been a goodrnman?” My wife leans toward me andrnwhispers, “Oh, puke.”rnAfter loathing Spielberg for his portrayalrnof the old man, I found myself admiringrnSpielberg for his depiction of thernlanding at Omaha. The realism is astounding,rnalthough there seems to be arndearth of officers and NCOs issuing orders,rnorganizing troops, and leadingrnmen. Spielberg allows his troops to liernon the beach exposed to withering firernand be slaughtered.rnMeanwhile, Mrs. Ryan looks out thernkitchen window of her farmhouse andrnsees a car with U.S. Army insignia approaching.rnShe walks out the door andrnthen lowers herself onto the porch andrnhalf sits and half sprawls —Spielberg’srnAmerican woman. This is not the pioneerrnfarm woman who helped conquerrnthe frontier. This is not the mother orrngrandmother of America of the 1940’s.rnThose women were as brave and asrnstrong as the sons they reared, and theyrnwould not dare show emotion or weaknessrnin front of strangers. This is not thernreal life Mrs. Sullivan who lost all five ofrnher sons in the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal.rnIn imitation of John Ford in ThernSearchers, Spielberg shoots the scenernfrom inside the farmhouse, lookingrnthrough the front doorway. Ford neverrnwould have had Dorothy Jordanrnsprawled on the porch.rnOnce off the beach, Capt. Miller isrnchosen to lead the search for Pvt. Ryan.rnHowever, the 101st Airborne, Ryan’s outfit,rnlanded behind Utah Beach. Why,rnthen, use Capt. Miller, who is a companyrncommander of Army Rangers at OmaharnBeach? Moreover, why pull a companyrncommander out of the line tornconduct the search? Dramatic license, Irnsuppose, and suspending disbelief is requiredrnat some point in most movies, butrnthis movie asks the viewer to suspend disbeliefrnagain and again and again.rnCapt. Miller is a reluctant warrior whornwould rather be back home teaching Englishrnto his high school class. How andrnwhy, then, did he become a captain ofrnthe Rangers —the army’s elite outfit?rnThe same applies in spades to the menrnhe selects from his company for the mission.rnThey look and act like flotsam recruitedrnfrom the stockade. Chain ofrncommand and discipline are foreign tornthem. This bunch is going to take on thernGerman army?rnOff they go, searching behind enemyrnlines for Pvt. Ryan. They stroll ratherrnthan walk. They are bunched tightly.rnNo one walks point or drag, or on thernflanks. They chatter and whine. Theyrndebate the merits of the mission—andrneverything else —with their captain.rnThis isn’t war: It’s a walk in the park.rn4/CHRONlCLESrnrnrn