A Comparison between The Longest Day and Saving Private Ryan
Like Saving Private Ryan (made in about 1998), The Longest Day, (1962) tells the story of the allies’ (American and British) invasion of Normandy in 1944. Yet the two movies are directed in strikingly different styles and create very different impressions of soldiers' experience of combat in World War II.
This assignment provides prompts for students to write a series of paragraphs comparing key aspects of the two films, with a particular focus on the impact on the audience of the radically different styles of the directors. Students are also required, among other things, to give their reasons for preferring one or other of the two films.
In my open-level grade 11 Media Studies class, I show the trailer and selected scenes from The Longest Day having already screened the entirety of Saving Private Ryan. Students take notes during the screening of both films. I issue this assignment sheet before I screen The Longest Day, to give students a clear focus for their note-taking. Once the screening is complete (I show about one hour of the 3-hour film), students spend about 3 hours of class and home-work time completing the written assignment.