Class Year


Document Type

Student Research Paper

Date of Creation

Fall 2020

Department 1

Environmental Studies


Although certain films may not be explicitly labeled as environmental film, we approach Saving Private Ryan through an ecocritical analysis. We evaluate how the film not only displays the physical and mental tolls of war in several bloody battles, but we also explore the environmental costs. By examining the genre of historical realism, we demonstrate how the film outlines the unique role of the environment in war but also enables the viewers to consider the impacts of war on the surrounding environment. To understand the environmental message in Saving Private Ryan, we used a concept called the “Three Ecologies” by the ecocinema scholar, Adrian J. Ivakhiv. By considering the perceptual and social environments on-screen in Saving Private Ryan, it allows us to think about the material impact of war on real settings. Therefore, the unique role of the environment in war is seen through the portrayal and highlighted importance of weather, geography, and resources. The marine environment was also found to be disturbed due to the numerous vessels and equipment lost at sea, and along the beaches of Normandy. The certain stylistic elements used in this Hollywood Blockbuster are used to depict the film’s various settings and action to help us understand the role of the environment in how viewers engage with the film. Overall, this study evaluates how Saving Private Ryan provides an invaluable commentary on the environmental aspect of an iconic battle in world history.


Written for ES 319: Environmental Film