Were you moved by the intense movie, Saving Private Ryan? Try this quiz!


By: Olivia Cantor

4 Min Quiz

Image: DreamWorks, Paramount Pictures, Amblin Entertainment

About This Quiz

There are war films, and then there are war films. And then there are war films that pose a unique story for the viewers to empathize with, like "Saving Private Ryan." Think you know enough about this intriguing and thought-provoking war film? Then take this quiz and find out!

Who directed "Saving Private Ryan"?

Steven Spielberg was also interested in directing war films, aside from his usual sci-fi films. His interests greatly vary.


Who is the lead actor of the film?

Tom Hanks gets top billing for his role as Captain John Miller. But this is not his first time to portray a man in uniform.


What war is featured in the film’s story?

Spielberg seems to have an affinity for directing war-related stories. Many of his war films were set during World War II, like this one.


The film starts and ends with contemporary scenes at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial, which is located in Normandy. In which country is Normandy located?

France played a huge role during World War II, especially Normandy. The famed “Invasion of Normandy” happened here, and is the setting of this film.


Spielberg opened the war scenes with a very graphic “on-the-ground” realistic portrayal of the Omaha Beach landing during the Invasion of Normandy. How long did this scene last onscreen?

Many trade publications hailed Spielberg’s 27-minute fighting scene at the Omaha Beach landing as monumental. While it is indeed graphic in nature, it was his intention to portray the battle as accurately as he could.


The main plot of the film actually starts in what office in Washington, D.C.?

All types of information coursed through the U.S. War Department, concerning all American-related activities during World War II. And one particular concern brought up here sparked the situation that will advance the plot.


At the U.S. War Department, someone noticed several telegrams addressed to only one recipient, each telegram bearing bad news. What kind of worker noticed this?

One of the women who works as a secretary at the War Department noticed something odd with several telegrams. She immediately brought this to the attention of her boss.


Who was the recipient of the three telegrams that were noticed by the US State Department secretary?

Mrs. Ryan will be getting the saddest news in one day about her children. This was the concern of the U.S. War Department officials.


What did the three telegrams addressed to Mrs. Ryan contain?

Mrs. Ryan apparently had several sons deployed during the war. But she would soon receive news that some of her sons died in combat.


How many sons did Mrs. Ryan initially lose in the war?

The U.S. War Department noticed the telegrams about the death of Sean, Peter and Daniel Ryan. The three were the soldier sons of one Mrs. Ryan.


When U.S. Army officials arrived at Mrs. Ryan’s house to deliver the bad news, how did she react?

When a military car arrives in the middle of an American farm, one knows that it’s a serious matter. Mrs. Ryan thought so, and her knees immediately weakened, as she slowly sat on the floor upon the arrival of bad news.


All hope is not lost for Mrs. Ryan, though, as there seems to be a fourth soldier son who could still be alive. What is his name?

Mrs. Ryan apparently had four sons who signed up for the war. But the fate of James Francis Ryan remained uncertain at the time of his three brothers’ deaths.


Who portrayed James Francis Ryan?

Matt Damon portrayed the youngest Ryan brother in this film. The story of the brothers weas actually loosely patterned after a real-life story during World War II.


What was James Francis Ryan’s role in the army?

A paratrooper is a soldier of an airborne military unit. They parachute down to enemy territory or wherever they are needed in battle.


The news about the deaths of Mrs. Ryan’s sons moved which high military official?

General George Marshall was the chief of staff of the U.S. Army during this war. This news of losing three soldier brothers in one war bothered him so much.


Gen. George Marshall got inspiration on what to do regarding Mrs. Ryan’s case from a document known as the Bixby letter. Which U.S. president supposedly wrote this letter?

U.S. President Abraham Lincoln is said to have written a letter to a Mrs. Bixby, regarding the death of her sons in battle. This was during the Civil War.


Inspired by what President Lincoln wrote to a Mrs. Bixby about the death of her sons in battle, General George Marshall ordered what mission to be carried out immediately?

Gen. Marshall’s officers were apprehensive about this plan of retrieving the paratrooper Pvt. Ryan since they didn’t know his exact whereabouts. But the general still wanted to get Ryan home to his mother.


When Capt. Miller received the special orders “from the top” to retrieve Pvt. Ryan, he termed the mission as what?

Many of the soldiers assigned to this retrieval mission were skeptical about it. Capt. Miller was, too, since he had to head what he called a public relations mission for the army to probably look good.


Capt. Miller assembled a special battle-trained squad to undergo the retrieval operation of Pvt. Ryan. But among his men, he also got a cartographer without battle training or experience. Why was that?

Cartographer Timothy Upham wouldn’t make maps for this mission. He was transferred to this mission for his skill in speaking European languages.


Which languages could Upham speak?

Even if Upham didn’t have battle experience, his knowledge of French and German would go a long way in this mission. Capt. Miller knew this for sure.


Who portrayed cartographer-linguist Timothy Upham?

Jeremy Davies earned several nominations for his acting stint as Upham. He also has a good career playing different characters in mainstream and independent films and TV series, such as "Lost" and "Justified."


One of the squad members of Capt. Miller’s mission was Pvt. First Class Richard Reiben, who initially questioned the logic of the mission, saying all soldiers had mothers, too. Who played Reiben?

Edward Burns played Richard Reiben, the soldier who was not afraid to ask his captain about the mission’s logic. He was first noticed by Hollywood as the director-producer-writer-actor of the 1995 film, "The Brothers McMullen."


Which "Fast and the Furious" star was also part of Capt. Miller’s squad?

Before hitting it big with the "Fast and the Furious" films, Vin Diesel was part of the crew to save Pvt. Ryan. He eventually became famous for other roles in films, such as "Riddick" and "xXx."


A medic, Irvin Wade, was also part of the mission squad. Who portrayed Wade?

Giovanni Ribisi played the medic, Irvin Wade, a soldier trained to treat wounded soldiers on the battlefield. He would be fatally wounded later on, though.


According to Capt. Miller, military gripes should only go in which direction?

The mission was seen as a huge joke by Capt. Miller’s squad, so they talked about it as gripes. The captain reminded them, though, that a soldier could only gripe to his higher-ranking officer, as all gripes should go up the rank.


Which Canadian actor portrayed Pvt. Daniel Jackson, the talented sniper who Capt. Miller said knew how to properly gripe?

Barry Pepper was the left-handed sniper, Daniel Jackson. He also portrayed Robert F. Kennedy in the 2011 "Kennedys" miniseries.


Which character actor portrayed technical sergeant Mike Horvath in the film, the one who later confronted the would-be deserter of their squad?

Like Tom Hanks, Tom Sizemore has played many soldier roles in his career. He was also in the war-themed films "Pearl Harbor," Black Hawk Down" and "Born on the Fourth of July."


Pvt. Stanley Mellish, who the guys also called Fish, was the very talkative rifleman of the squad. Who portrayed him?

Adam Goldberg appeared in "Friends" and in "Entourage." Aside from TV work, he also does films from time to time, like this Fish role.


Miller’s squad encountered some Germans on the way to the city where they would eventually locate Pvt. Ryan. They took one German soldier initially as a prisoner, and called him what?

The German soldier captive was trying to relate to his American captors. His main references were early American cartoons, such as Mickey Mouse’s "Steamboat Willie" cartoon.


The German captive, “Steamboat Willie,” tried to sing the lyrics of what song to show his captors that he liked America?

The German captive sang the only lyrics he knew of the American national anthem, "The Star-Spangled Banner." He didn’t go past “O say can you see."


What did Capt. Miller do to the German captive, “Steamboat Willie,” which caused quite a ruckus with his own men?

Miller ordered one of his men to blindfold the German captive and walk 1,000 paces away from them. This conditional release came with the note that the German should surrender himself to the first Allied troops that he encountered on the way.


The squad finally located Pvt. Ryan somewhere in the town of Ramelle in Normandy, near Merderet River. Ryan was one of the troops tasked to defend what kind of structure there?

Although Ramelle was a fictional place, Merderet River is a real river located in Normandy. The bridge across this river was where Pvt. Ryan was found by the mission squad.


Capt. Miller decided to help Ryan and the soldiers defend the bridge in Ramelle. What kind of bomb did he improvise, to the amazement of his soldiers?

Capt. Miller taught the soldiers how to make a “sticky bomb” using standard issue socks filled with explosive components. Worked pretty well for their effort.


Toward the end of the mission, what happened to Pvt. Ryan and Capt. Miller?

Towards the end, Pvt. Ryan was indeed saved, even if it meant some of the men tasked to retrieve him were killed in the process. That included the head of the mission, Capt. Miller.


Spielberg won an Academy Award for this film. In which category did he win?

Saving Private Ryan was heavily nominated at the 71st Academy Awards. Spielberg won his second Best Directing award for this film.


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