During this moment of prayer, Jackson is in the action, yet alone and buried in responsibility. The long, seemingly calm pause is interspersed with other images of the dying, frantically praying to God in midst of all Chaos. Spielberg has used this range of images varied together, to prolong Jackson’s pause, generating tension as the audience anticipate the outcome. The different images are of various scenarios, where like Jackson they are praying to God in their time of need.
Although the requirements of God are very different, this just shows that whatever situation that people are in, the natural instinct at the end of the day, is to call for a supernatural being, to come at their rescue. The element of spiritual confiding in this, show again just how close death is to God and this is clearly portrayed when Jackson say’s: “I am close to you Lord”. This is said moments before the Private shoots. He at this point is unsure of his survival and shows that he knows that he is incredibly close to dying. Spielberg lets the audience know this too and creates ample suspense through the pause. All tension that has been lingering is completely released when Private Jackson shoots and kills the remaining Germans.
At this point the enemy onslaught has been destroyed and the American Soldiers are safe. Spielberg uses this point to release all of the excitement and tension that has been building up, transferring the audience into a relative calm. In the whole of the Battle scene, death is an element not escaped from. Spielberg has chosen to portray War how it really was, holding nothing back. In real life, death is not heroic; it is a tragedy that brings fear into the hearts of all men. It was not attractive, it was horrific and to keep it in line with realism.
Spielberg too had to show it in this way. During the Scene, everywhere you turn, there is a person dying a painful death, with screams pronouncing the bodies awash with blood. Spielberg creates compassion among the audience, with empathy for the injured. However, he also arouses tension as the thought that maybe one of their favoured characters will be next, loiters in their minds. Spielberg has chosen to show death in such graphic detail, to keep nothing back from the audience. He wants to show it in a realistic way and I think wants to make it as authentic as possible.
In other fictional War films, the Soldiers die heroically and for a patriotic reason. In reality, the Soldiers did not want to die and were scared out of their wits. Spielberg has portrayed it much truer to life and has steered away from these stereotypical films into reality, in order to keep the whole film’s authenticity as honest as possible. Unlike the Americans during the scene, the audience does not see the Germans’ faces. The camera shot restricts the view to distinguish only their backs, shoulders and arms from the rear. Spielberg has done this to dehumanise them, taking away the audiences empathy for their
emotions. The eyes are said to be the `windows into your soul’ and by masking their faces the audience cannot see them and therefore can’t sympathise with their emotional state. The Germans were human and they too were going through the same trauma as the Americans. However, Spielberg wanted to get the audience biased toward the allies and so stopped the audience from having any compassion for the `enemy’. By doing this, Spielberg creates tension as the audience don’t want the Germans (whom they have no emotional attachment to) to kill the `much loved’ Americans.
One machine gun post poses the greatest threat of all, mowing down life by life in every careless movement. The regiment of Soldiers, led by Captain Miller, work as a unified team to break past the barbed wire and screams of the dying. Taking cover, with the aid of their sniper, they kill they gunners and advance past the German bunker. All tension is then released; we know that for now that they are safe. Spielberg has used the characters in such a way, to reinforce the overall realism in the scene. By using one stereotypical character to represent the professional soldiers fighting on that day, he contrasts
the rest of the characters to him, emphasising their statuses as average civilians. Through this contrast, realism is put into each of the characters as the realisation that these men were ordinary, comes into the minds of each spectator. Spielberg exploits the character’s thoughts and feelings, making the audience connect with them, thus producing tension at the uncertainty of their survival.
Through these points made by Spielberg, as a teenage male, I can appreciate the fact that these soldiers were not much older than I and that they weren’t all war heroes, but young, petrified men. Sound is another resource greatly used by Spielberg. The ever-loud rapidity of war seems to up the pace of the scene constantly, heightening the adrenaline of the audience and bringing their physical emotional rate in parallel with the chaos on the screen. Spielberg produces immense excitement, as the audience cannot bear to look away. Every moment is unpredictable and so is the sound along with it and this is extremely exciting and tense for the spectator. The last and possibly the greatest used of all three techniques is that of camera work.
Spielberg has used this element to create immense tension in the scene. He has done this most notably through a deception early on, by killing off characters that the audience have become attached to and so, simulating an emotion of loss. Through out the scene he has used a long lingering shots to contrast with the rapid staccato of battle, emphasising certain important pauses, thus also generating suspense. The shots of death throughout the scene are extremely moving and certainly cause every spectator to stop and think about the brave men who died on 6^th June 1944.