On July 24, 1998, Steven Spielberg released his second World War II film. Rather than centering on Nazis or the Holocaust, however, Saving Private Ryan told the dramatic story of the US troops invasion of Normandy. The film was immediately praised by critics for its direction, cinematography, acting, music, and sound. It would go on to win 5 Academy Awards, including Best Sound.
One of the most iconic moments of the film is its graphic opening, depicting the assault on Omaha Beach. Clocking in at 20 minutes long, this notoriously brutal scene is utter chaos—not just visually but aurally, with bullets whizzing by, bombs exploding, soldiers screaming, and blood spraying. Spielberg stated the point of the scene was to go beyond merely showing the audience what the experience was like, and make viewers feel as if they were storming the beach themselves.
Audio Design Desk artist Jared Otto decided to take a pass at this iconic scene—not only to honor the film’s anniversary, but to test how our software measures up to Oscar-winning sound. In our biggest ReDesign to date, you’ll hear hundreds of bullets flying past, and a hundred more bombs erupting from all sides. The scene is filled with so much foley and mayhem that there’s no room left over for music—but sound design is able to peek through in intense moments to heighten anxiety.
Take a look, take a listen, and take your own pass at this incredibly powerful scene, and find out how you stack up to the award-winning pros who gave the most immersive portrayal of WWII that cinema’s ever seen. Happy 23rd birthday to Saving Private Ryan!