Saving Private Ryan

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Saving Private Ryan is a 1998 film that follows the efforts of a World War II Normandy invasion commander and his special squad to locate a soldier whose brothers have been killed in action, in order to return him to his thrice-bereaved family.

Directed by Steven Spielberg and written by Robert Rodat.
The mission is a man. taglines
Spoiler warning: Plot, ending, or solution details follow.

Captain John H. Miller

  • This Ryan better be worth it. He better go home and cure some disease, or invent a longer-lasting light bulb, or something. Because to tell you the truth, I wouldn't trade ten Ryans for one Vecchio or one Caparzo.
  • Sometimes I wonder if I've changed so much, my wife is even gonna recognize me whenever it is I get back to her, and how I'll ever be able to tell about days like today. Aw, Ryan. I don't know anything about Ryan, I don't care. The man means nothing to me; he's just a name. But if, you know, if going to Ramelle, and finding him so he can go home, if that earns me the right to get back to my wife, well then, then that's my mission.
  • I just know that every man I kill, the farther away from home I feel.
  • [Dying words, to Private Ryan] James... earn this. Earn it.

Sergeant Mike Horvath

  • I don't know. Part of me thinks the kid's right. He asks what he's done to deserve this. He wants to stay here, fine. Let's leave him and go home. But then another part of me thinks, what if by some miracle we stay, then actually make it out of here. Someday we might look back on this and decide that saving Private Ryan was the one decent thing we were able to pull out of this whole godawful, shitty mess.

Private James Francis Ryan

  • [Older James Ryan at Captain Miller's grave] My family is with me today. They wanted to come with me. To be honest with you, I wasn't sure how I'd feel coming back here. Every day I think about what you said to me that day on the bridge. And I've tried to live my life the best I could. I hope that was enough. I hope that at least in your eyes, I've earned what all of you have done for me.


Pvt. Reiben: Say Captain, you don't gripe at all?
Capt. Miller: I don't gripe to you, Reiben. I'm a Captain. We have a chain of command. Gripes go up, not down. Always up. You gripe to me, I gripe to my superior officer, and so on and so forth. I don't gripe to you. I don't gripe in front of you. You should know that, as a Ranger.
Pvt. Reiben: Well, I'm sorry, sir, but let's say you weren't a Captain, or maybe I was a Major. What would you say then?
Capt. Miller: Ah, well, in that case, I'd say this is an excellent mission, sir, with an extremely valuable objective, sir, worthy of my best efforts, sir. Moreover, I feel heartfelt sorrow for the mother of Private James Ryan and am willing to lay down my life, and the lives of my men — especially you, Reiben — to ease her suffering.
Pvt. Mellish: He's good.
Pvt Caparzo: I love him.

Pvt. Reiben: You want to explain the math of this to me? I mean, where's the sense in risking the lives of the eight of us to save one guy?
Capt. Miller: Anyone wanna answer that?
Medic Wade: Hey, Reiben, think about the poor bastard’s mother.
Pvt. Reiben: Hey, Wade, I got a mother, you got a mother, the sarge has got a mother. Shit, I'll bet that even the Captain's got a mother. [Looks at Miller] Well, maybe not the Captain, but the rest of us have got mothers.

Corp. Upham: "Ours is not to reason why, ours is but to do and die."
Pvt. Mellish: La-la-la-la-la-la-la. What the fuck is that supposed to mean, Corporal? We're all supposed to die, is that it?
Capt. Miller: Upham's talking about our duties as soldiers. We're given a mission and we follow orders and that supersedes everything, including our mothers.
Corp. Upham: Yes, sir. Thank you, sir.
Pvt. Reiben: Even if you think the misson's FUBAR, Captain?
Capt. Miller: Especially if you think the mission's FUBAR.
Corp. Upham: What's FUBAR?
Pvt. Mellish: Oh, it's German.
Corp. Upham: [Who is fluent in German] Never heard of it.

Capt. Miller: James... I’m here to tell you your brothers were killed in combat.
Pvt. Ryan: Which... which ones, sir?
Capt. Miller: All of them.

Pvt. Reiben: I got a bad feeling about this one.
Capt. Miller: When was the last time you felt good about anything?

Capt. Miller: You see, when... when you end up killing one of your men, you see, you tell yourself it happened so you could save the lives of two or three or ten others. Maybe a hundred others. Do you know how many men I've lost under my command?
Sgt. Horvath: How many?
Capt. Miller: Ninety-four. But that means I've saved the lives of ten times that many, doesn't it? Maybe even 20, right? Twenty times as many? And that's how simple it is. That's how you... that’s how you rationalize on making the choice between the mission and the man.
Sgt. Horvath: Except this time, the mission is a man.

Pvt. Ryan: It doesn't make sense, sir. I mean, why me? Why not any of us? Hell, these guys deserve to go home as much as I do. They’ve fought just as hard.
Capt. Miller: Is that what they're supposed to tell your mother when they send her another folded American flag?
Pvt. Ryan: You can tell her that when you found me, I was here, and I was with the only brothers I have left. And that there was no way I was deserting them. I think she'd understand that.

Pvt. Reiben: You know what that song reminds me of? It reminds me of Mrs. Rachel Troubowitz and what she said to me the day I left for basic.
Pvt. Mellish: What, "Don't touch me"?
Pvt. Reiben: No. Mrs. Rachel Troubowitz was our super's wife. She comes into my mom's shop to try on a few things, all right? And she’s easily like a, uh, a 44 double E.
Pvt. Mellish: Double E?!
Pvt. Reiben: I mean, these things are massive. And I've got her convinced that she’s like a 42D, all right? So we're in the dressing room, she’s trying to squeeze into this side-cut, silk-ribboned, triple panel girdle with the, uh, shelf-lift brassiere and it's beautiful because she's just pouring outta this thing, you know? It's beautiful. And she sees me and she can tell I got a hard-on the size of the Statue of Liberty, right? And she says to me, "Richard, calm down." And she says, "Now when you're over there, if you see anything that upsets you, if you're ever scared, I want you to close your eyes and think of these. You understand?" So I said, "Yes, ma'am."


  • The mission is a man.
  • In the Last Great Invasion of the Last Great War, The Greatest Challenge for Eight Men…was Saving One.
  • There was only one man left in the family, and the mission was to save him.


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