“I’ll see you on the beach!” Masculine performance in Saving PrivateRyan (1998) and Objective, Burma! (1945).
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A comparison of some specific components of the acting styles in Steven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan (1998) and Raoul Walsh’s Objective, Burma! (1945) reveals that there are significant differences in the techniques employed by the masculine performers of these films from two different eras of production. Errol Flynn’s performance in Objective, Burma! Is characterized by rigid, theatrical body postures and gestures whereas Tom Hanks’ acting in Saving Private Ryan exhibits a much more loose, relaxed physicality. There are also significant differences in vocal performance, in that Hanks typically uses a much greater range of voice loudness and register. Arguably, these observations are apparent in the evolution of the WW2 combat film genre more generally. These differences can be attributed to a number of factors: for instance, the influence of Stanislavski-inspired Method acting inpost-1950s Hollywood, technological changes in location filming praxis, and the recent employment of civilian technical advisors for military films. This paper argues that these developments have resulted in contemporary performances being much more detailed and nuanced than the acting styles of the 1940s.
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