Given the film industry's high stakes, and the players' super-size egos, it's no wonder that Hollywood is a perpetual war zone. But the latest burst of warfare isn't taking place in the offices of studio executives or in the dressing trailer of some spoiled star. It's happening on the screen where World War II is once again, a hot topic. Leading the army of upcoming titles is Saving Private Ryan from DreamWorks, directed by Steven Spielberg. Say what you will about Spielberg (and his movies do have their critics), he is nonetheless famed for shaping public taste, infatuation, and interests.

Consider such indelible screen icons as that relentless shark, that adorable extra-terrestrial, and the adventurous Indiana Jones. Of course, Spielberg also has a "serious" side. And so, the man who won an Academy Award for his direction of the affecting concentration camp drama, Schindler's List, now directs his attention to the beaches of Normandy on June 6, 1944 aka, D-Day and an absorbing fictional quest involving a stranded paratrooper. Loosely inspired by a real-life wartime incident, which was memorialized in the 1944 movie, The Fighting Sullivans about five American brothers who died together when their cruiser was sunk in the South Pacific the Spielberg film is about a squadron, led by (captain) Tom Hanks, who must find the missing Private Ryan (Matt Damon). The reason: three of Ryan's brothers have already died in battle and the War Department doesn't want his family to lose their fourth and final son. A saga of duty and honor written for the screen, the Saving Private Ryan novelization is by Max Allen Collins.


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