It's been 20 years since director Steven Spielberg delivered what may well be the greatest WWII movie in "Saving Private Ryan." Even after two decades, you won't find a film that better captures the intensity and emotional cost of warfare. And to celebrate this major anniversary, here are some interesting facts you might not know about Spielberg's wartime opus.
1. Writer Robert Rodat first conceived the film in 1994, when he was in Pennsylvania and encountered a monument dedicated to the four sons of Agnes Allison, who were killed during the American Civil War.
2. Most of the main actors were subjected to an intensive boot camp in order to simulate the impact of being a soldier in the Normandy invasion. The lone exception was Matt Damon, as Spielberg specifically wanted the rest of the cast to feel resentment toward the man their characters were fighting so hard to save.
3. Spielberg was particularly adamant about not toning down the film's violence, even if it wound up earning an NC-17 rating. As a result, the film wound up being banned in Malaysia and narrowly made the cut in India.
4. "Saving Private Ryan" became the highest-grossing film of 1998 (domestically) despite its R-rating. It would be another 16 years until another R-rated film ("American Sniper") managed that same feat.
5. Former Marine captain Dale Dye served as Spielberg's military adviser, and he also had a small role in the film as the colonel near the beginning of the movie who advises General Marshall against sending a rescue party for Private Ryan.
6. If Ryan's story about spying on his brother seemed odd and disjointed, that's because Matt Damon ad-libbed the monologue. Spielberg felt the long, rambling nature of the story suited the character and his unusual position in the war.
7. The role of Private Ryan was originally offered to Edward Norton, who turned it down in favor of starring in "American History X." Norton and Hanks wound up competing against one another at the Oscars the following year.
8. Spielberg significantly toned down the color saturation as part of the film's distinctive visual style. Unfortunately, this caused problems when "Saving Private Ryan" was first broadcast on cable channels, with numerous angry customers calling in to complain about the picture quality.
9. The late Robin Williams deserves some credit for Damon being cast in the film, as he introduced Damon to Spielberg on the set of "Good Will Hunting."
10. The iconic sequence where Private Jackson shoots the German sniper through his own scope was reportedly inspired by a similar incident during the Vietnam War.
11.Tom Hanks was inducted into the US Army Ranger's Hall of Fame in 2006, thanks to his performance in this film.
12. "Saving Private Ryan" took 59 days to shoot, 25 of which were devoted to the Normandy invasion sequence.
13. All five of the Oscar nominees for Best Picture that year were period pieces, with "Saving Private Ryan" being one of three nominees set during World War II (the other two being "The Thin Red Line" and "Life Is Beautiful").