Cinema: Steven Spielberg: Reel War

Steven Spielberg peers at the face of battle as Hollywood never has before

First, there's the flag. It snaps bravely enough in the breeze blowing in off the sea. But there's something just slightly off about the image. Old Glory looks, well, old in this backlighted image--thin, faded, antique, like the unambiguous emotions it used to stir in an age less given to irony and selfishness than our own. Steven Spielberg, in his new film, Saving Private Ryan, wants us to think about that, about how "the deep pride we once felt in our flag" has given way "to cynicism about our colors."

Then there's the memory of those distant days, now preserved...

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