Oak Ridge, United States, World

R Rated Reality


Scene from the Beginning of the film Saving Private Ryan (dga.org)

Hundreds of American soldiers storm Omaha Beach on the western coast of France bullets whizzing by, some making contact, spewing out American’s blood.  Saving Private Ryan is a movie honoring American soldiers that fought in World War II.  We are not allowed to watch it at Oak Ridge because it is too violent. Although, Saving Private Ryan should be allowed to be shown in high schools because it shows the reality of warfare and it honors the people who sacrificed their lives for our country.

The movie is based on the event “D Day” when American troops fought in the Battle of Normandy.  During this battle on June 6, 1944 (D Day) around 150,000 allied troops dispatched onto a stretch of 50 miles along the coast of Western France.  Along this coastline, there were 5 different beaches the Allies attacked from Gold, Juno, Sword, Utah, and Omaha.  Utah beach was not initially planned to be invaded until the last minute, surprisingly with a relatively few number of deaths.  Paratroopers were ordered to land behind enemy lines.  Many were killed from landing in swamps, however, the ones who did land landed miles away from their targeted zone. The American soldiers improvised, one of them being Theodore Roosevelt Junior, son of President Roosevelt.  By far, Omaha Beach was the most difficult because of the mistakenly low estimate of German troops in the area, steep cliffs surrounding the beach, and the unforgiving ocean surge. Many of the boats carrying soldiers did not even make it to shore putting the allies at a disadvantage from the start.  Gold

D-Day (CNN.com)

Beach was right in the middle of the other four beaches. There was largely British troops at this beach who took the over the beach relatively easily. Their success was mainly due to the air raids that cleared out much of the German’s defensives. Juno was lead by the Canadians.  They did not have as much luck as the British, lacking tank support.  They did not get off to a great start with a 50 percent casualty rate for the assault team.  However, they pushed on and ended up getting furthest inland out of all the beaches. Sword Beach, Invaded by British and Canadians, was attacked from behind enemy lines initially from airborne troops. Then boats came in dispatching troops on shore, receiving low resistance(History.com).

To this day The Battle of Normandy was the biggest water to land invasion ever in warfare.  Because of this, there was a lot of planning that took place to ensure it would go down as smoothly as possible.  This operation allowed allied forces to take control of Western Europe which was controlled by Germany at the time of World War 2.  The Battle of Normandy is often looked at as the tipping point which helped the allies come out on top.

Another scene from the beginning of the film Saving Private Ryan (dga.org)

The opening scene of Saving Private Ryan takes place in the Battle of Normandy. This scene shows things you could not imagine.  It shows people trying to hide with both their legs blown off, people lying on the ground with their organs spilling out, and more.  American troops land on shore while getting pelted with the Axis Powers bullets.  By the end of the scene, the ocean water was completely red from blood.  Saving Private Ryan is most likely not allowed to be shown at Oak Ridge because of the violence.  This violence shown in the movie is what the reality of warfare is.  Everyone always talks about war so why would it be a bad thing to watch something that shows you the reality of it?

Anyone who has served our country deserves to be honored for their sacrifice alone to defend our freedom.  Throughout the movie, it shows how the soldiers risk their lives daily in war.  Most people do not understand the actual reality of war and this movie does a good job of portraying that.  Once someone understands the true reality of war they can then understand how all of our veterans should be honored.

Mr. Christopher Moore is the Assistant Superintendent of the El Dorado Union High School District.  Over an email, he explained to me that there is a certain process the district has for approving R rated movies to be shown in the classroom.  He sent me the complete board policy regarding this topic in the email as well.  In the policy it said, “The Assistant Superintendent for Educational Services will chair a standing committee, consisting of a librarian, English/Language Arts Department Chair, History/Social Science Department Chair, Foreign Language Department Chair, Science Department Chair, VAPA Department Chair, and the teacher requesting approval of the film, a principal, and five parents (one from each comprehensive school site and one from an alternative program) to view films and to make a recommendation for the approval of the film as a Board-Adopted Supplemental Instructional Material.”  As one can see it is quite the process to get a movie approved. Mr. Hodgins is actively trying to put a plan into action to get Saving Private Ryan approved by the district.  If you feel it should be allowed to be shown in class, email the district and ask for things you can do to help support these efforts.  

In order to ensure that this process is fare with no biased opinions the regulation for choosing the committee members is as follows; “Parent members will be recommended by the site principal and appointed by the Superintendent in consultation with the Governing Board. Principals will submit the names of three parent candidates for the Superintendent’s consideration and selection. Representative Department Chairs may be selected by the Standards and Instructional Leadership Team or by a vote of the Department Chairs” (Moore).  Even though this system is in place to ensure no bias it does not take into account the value the movies could provide.

One of Oak Ridge’s teachers was present at this meeting to decide on whether or not to approve Saving Private Ryan several years ago.  Mr. Jenkins said during the meeting the committee discussed the violence and language that was present in the film.  He also mentioned that most movies are decided on pretty quickly, but Saving Private Ryan took longer than most to reach a consensus.  In the end, the committee decided that Saving Private Ryan had too much vulgar language and violence to be shown in schools.  To this day Saving Private Ryan is still not allowed to be shown at Oak Ridge High School.

Since Saving Private Ryan shows the reality of war and the honor of someone serving their country we should be able to watch this impactful movie in school. If there are any other movies out there that you think to send a good message contact your school district about them.  Find out why they may not be allowed to be shown and suggest a reason why it would be a good idea to have it to be allowed to show.

Article by Ryan Rogers & Video by Ryan Carpenter 

Works Cited:

History.com Staff. “D-Day.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 2009, www.history.com/topics/world-war-ii/d-day.

Biguenet, John. “The Profound Contradiction of Saving Private Ryan.” The Atlantic, Atlantic Media Company, 5 June 2014, www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2014/06/the-false-patriotism-of-saving-private-ryan/371539/.

Greenspan, Jesse. “Landing at Normandy: The 5 Beaches of D-Day.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 6 June 2014, www.history.com/news/landing-at-normandy-the-5-beaches-of-d-day.

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