‘Saving Private Ryan’ Ending Explained: Does Ryan Comes Home Eventually?

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Welcome to Ending Explained for ‘Saving Private Ryan.’ The movie is considered one of the best war films, and Steven Spielberg directed it. It was released on 24 July 1998 and is set during World War II. The movie follows the story of a group of American soldiers assigned the dangerous mission of finding and bringing home Private James Francis Ryan, whose three brothers have all been killed in action.

This year is the 15th anniversary of the movie and its huge success. Spielberg gathered star actors for this movie, and it paid off. Portraying Captain John Miller, Tom Hanks was spectacular, and the others did a great job, most notably Tom Sizemore as Sergeant Horvath, Edward Burns as Private Reiben, Adam Goldberg as Private Mellish, and Matt Damon as Private Ryan.

The movie is filled with realistic war battles and all the horrors the war brings. It deals with the dilemma if one man’s life is worth sacrificing the lives of many and also explores themes of duty, loyalty, and the bond between soldiers. The movie won five Academy Awards, including Best Director for Steven Spielberg, and it has become a classic in the war film genre.

What is ‘Saving Private Ryan’ movie about?

what is saving private ryan about

We meet Captain John Miller and his troops on June 6, 1944, during the D-Day invasion of Normandy. The enemies awaited their landing on the beach, and it ended bloody and with many casualties. There was no time to look back, as the main priority was to advance through the rain of bullets and explosions. Captain Miller led his people through impossible conditions, with the deadly enemy threatening them with every step they took.

When the first goal was completed, the water was red from all the blood, and the shore was filled with corpses. Among the dead bodies, there was also one of the Ryan brothers. When the US Army realized what had happened, they informed Colonel Bryce about it. Three of Ryan brothers died in Normandy. One of them, Sean Ryan, died on Omaha Beach, and the other, Peter Ryan, died in Utah. And lastly, the third brother, Daniel Ryan, died in New Guinea.


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And as if that wasn’t enough, there was also a fourth brother, the youngest, and a member of the 101st Airborne. He was also somewhere in Normandy; no one knew where and if he was still alive. The Army informed their mother about what happened, and she was devastated by the news.

The information also got to General George C. Marshall, the United States Army Chief of Staff. After hearing that the youngest brother still might be alive somewhere behind the enemy’s line, he was determined that James Ryan was to be found a brought back home safely.

Captain Miller was tasked with that mission. He picked his squad, and they marched toward Ryan. However, on their journey, they could not help but wonder what is the use of potentially saving one soldier while seriously endangering the lives of the eight men in the process. But those were the orders, and they needed to follow them.

It turned out that finding James Ryan was not an easy task at all. Well, at least finding the right one. Captain Miller was known for following orders with no questions asked. However, this time he started to wonder if Ryan was worth all the trouble. Nevertheless, after some trial and error, he discovered that the guy he was looking for was headed toward Ramelle, where he would most likely find him.

What happened to Captain Miller and James Ryan at the end?

saving private ryan

After Captain Miller finally revealed more about his personal life to his squad, they managed to put their differences aside and carry on. In a crossfire with the enemies, they stumbled upon 101st Airborne. And sure enough, James Ryan was among them.

Captain Miller informed Ryan that his brothers were killed in combat and that there were orders to bring him back home. Ryan was shocked to hear that all of his brothers were gone. Nevertheless, he refused to leave his post and was determined that his place was among the only brothers he had left – there on the battlefield.

Since Ryan refused to leave, Captain Miller and his whole squad decided to stay and protect the bridge of so much value for the ultimate win. Gradually, Miller and Ryan started to connect and tell each other stories from their lives back home. Ryan remembered some happy moments spent with his brothers. Miller, on the other hand, had a memory of his wife and rose bushes. But he decided to keep that story just for himself.

When the enemies approached, Miller kept Ryan always by his side to keep him safe and tried to keep him out of harm’s way. But that wasn’t easy since Ryan wanted to be in the action. Captain’s Miller squad did a great job with the sticky bombs as they managed to disable the enemy’s tank.

Unfortunately, many brave men’s lives were lost during the battle, and it seemed like the enemies were steadily gaining the advantage. Captain Miller seemed to lose his rationality and confronted the remaining tank with only a pistol. And as he was effortlessly shooting the tank, a miracle happened. The reinforcement came from the air and blasted the tank away.


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Air Force secured the victory in the battle, but unfortunately, Captain Miller died of the sustained wounds. Before he passed, he said to Ryan that he needed to earn everything that was done for him. Many brave men and soldiers laid down their lives so Ryan could get home safely, so Miller’s only wish was that it was not in vain and that Ryan would eventually become a person that helps others also.

Ryan visited Captain Miller’s grave with his large family many years later. He told Miller that he tried to live his life the best he could and hoped that, at least in his Captain’s eyes, he earned the sacrifice all of them made for him in the war. After that, he asks his wife to assure him that he is a good man and eventually salutes Captain Miller one last time.

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