Watch: Steven Spielberg Teases New "Spielberg" Documentary
Steven Spielberg wasn't even sure anyone would want to watch Saving Private Ryan.
He'd already proved that audiences would pack a theater for the toughest of subject matter with 1993's Schindler's List, which won seven Oscars, including Best Picture and his first Best Director statue. But the Holocaust drama was a deeply personal film that he felt his entire career making relentlessly pleasing blockbusters (including Jurassic Park, released the same year) was leading up to.
And maybe, he thought, this new film—with itsliterally gut-wrenching depiction of the Allies landing at Normandy beach on June 6, 1944—was too much.
"Certain associates and other people in my life were saying that I made it too tough," Spielberg recalled to the Los Angeles Timesin 2018. "I feared that almost nobody would see it because the word of mouth would spread quickly after the first 25 minutes."
That opening D-Day sequence is indeed one of the harder watches in cinema history, but everyone should see it at least once, a reminder of how ugly combat is and how even a clear-eyed purpose can't make it glorious.
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After that, how you choose to mine the otherwise very watchable, albeit heartbreaking, treasure that is Saving Private Ryan is up to you.
In honor of the film's 25th anniversary, don't just sit there and watch someone else read these secrets about the World War II classic: