Combat Cinematography: Interpreting the Cinematographic Form of Combat Realism

  • Daniel Maddock


Steven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan is widely regarded as the most realistic depiction of battle ever captured on screen. The New York Times called its cinematography “reportorial candor” while critic Roger Ebert wrote of its “newsreel feel.” Spielberg won an Oscar for his efforts and in 2014 the film was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress, who deemed it “culturally, historically, and aesthetically significant.” Spielberg’s cinematographer, Janusz Kamiński, created a new cinematographic form which came to define the look of the combat film genre with its roots in combat newsreels and photography. Using Mark Cousins’ methodology of ‘schema-plus-variation’ to assess the film’s authenticity, it is clear that Kamiński’s cinematography occupies the ground between the ideologies of verisimilitude and impressionism.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Southern QueenslandToowoombaAustralia

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