In Germany, the film is called The Soldier Private Ryan. Any film about the second World War has particular poignancy in the country, re-awakening feelings of guilt and loss and illuminating the darkest moments of German history.
A film this realistic was bound to have a profound effect, especially for veterans like Ernst Maier, who is old enough to have served in the wartime Wehrmacht.
"Too much blood," he says. "Too much fighting, too much emotion. It touched me a lot."
The Germans have always had difficulty coming to terms with D-Day, let alone with the rest of the war.
German propaganda newsreels at the time depicted the Allied landing as a failure. The movie, with its realistic battle scenes, is a reminder of what really happened -- the hell and the heroism of war.
In Germany, it also has a perhaps unintentional irony: the American heroes here are dubbed into German.
Private Ryan provides a history lesson that may be useful to those too young to remember. Germany's strong postwar anti-militarist culture has lately been threatened by a rise in right-wing Neo-Nazism.
"Thank goodness I didn't have to take part in it," says one man who saw the film. "It's an appeal to humanity and politicians, and to all peoples to avoid war at all costs."
Private Ryan is a difficult film to watch anywhere, but perhaps in Germany, it's most difficult of all.
The film, directed by Steven Spielberg, has been running at theaters in the United States for 12 weeks. The gritty World War II epic starring Tom Hanks has been a box office hit, and has been praised by many U.S. veterans who have said the film evoked vivid memories of their war experiences.
Reported by Mark Phillips