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Saving private Ryan

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Spielberg"s Role: Director, Co-ProducerUS release Date: 1993


This FAQ was created by Jack Macpherson in solution to numerous repeated inquiries on the ALT.MOVIES.SPIELBERG Usenet group. It has actually been reorganized, and posted to civicpride-kusatsu.net" Steven Spielberg brochure to aid answer usual questions. If you have an comments around the content of the FAQ, please send them come Mr. Macpherson.

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Note indigenous the author:

Thanks to every the persons that sent suggestions and inputs. When no method definitive, this should anser many folks questions about the film. It"s virtually become a "Dummies overview to D-Day." The inquiries keep putting in, keeping the one-man research department busy. Thanks to every the people (too numerous to name) for offering so numerous of the answers.

Plot - Production - History - Miscellaneous


Q: Is the German soldier captured at the Radar Site and then released by Captain müller the same one that stabbed private Mellish to death?

A: No. The German POW, Steamboat Willie, did not kill Mellish. Mellish’s killer was a member the the Waffen SS. Steamboat Willie to be an plain German infantryman. As soon as Mellish and the SS trooper fight, notification the SS collar insignia on the German and his SS camouflaged smock.

Q: Why walk Miller have actually Wade accompany the squad on the assault on the machine-gun nest?

A: probably an oversight of the film. One would have to assume the Miller directed Wade to continue to be behind through Upham but that go disobeyed in bespeak to stay close to his comrades. That would not have been unusual behavior for a combat medic.

Q: Is over there a reservation in the opening scene regarding the identification of the old guy at the cemetery?

A: Yes. He’s attract the division pin of the 101st Airborne Division. That is the featured character that belongs to the Screaming Eagles? exclusive Ryan.

Q: What go Captain miller say to Ryan ~ above the bridge?

A: “James . . . Earn this,” and then “Earn it,” obviously telling him come live a life worthy the the resides sacrificed come rescue him.

Q: What walk Upham say once he captured the German soldiers in ~ the finish of the film?

A: Upham (stopping the to run group): "Drop her guns--all the you, autumn them!" Steamboat Willie climate said, "I know this soldier. I recognize this man . . . Upham." after ~ Upham shooting Steamboat Willie, he then claimed to the rest of the enemy soldiers, "take a hike . . . Run!"

Q: What walk Mellish’s killer say to him?

A: "Give in . . . You have actually no other an option . . . Do it less complicated for both of united state . . . . Shhhhhh."

Q: What walk Fish (Mellish) say to Caparzo when he handed that the Hitler Youth knife?

A: "Now it"s a Shabbat challah cutter." (bread knife).

Q: What was Caparzo make the efforts to provide to Fish ~ he’d been shot?

A: A V-mail letter to his father. He wanted it recopied so his dad wouldn"t check out all the blood ~ above the letter. V-mail was complimentary mail home for the GIs. Caparzo"s father wouldn"t have actually received the initial bloodstained letter in any case. To save beneficial cargo space, the V-mail letter were microfilmed and also then reproduced ago in the States.

Q: Why didn’t Mellish store all the ammunition with him instead of leave it with Upham?

A: The defense arrangement called for Mellish and Henderson come fire and also displace or “shoot and scoot.” Mellish pointed out to Upham the they would be fallin ago like crazy. Despite its name, a light device gun and also all its equipment isn’t all that light. The last thing Mellish and Henderson wanted to be burdened with while they’re bugging out is extra ammunition. The made feeling to store it in ~ a rearward location and have Upham distribution it together needed.

Q: What was causing Captain Miller"s hand to shake?

A: A reaction come the stress of combat undoubtedly. His character had been in combat for 2 years, together revealed by the discussions in between him and Sergeant Horvath. He"d watched combat in such locations as Kasserine happen in north Africa and Anzio in Italy. As an infantry officer, Miller has beaten the odds so much just through still gift alive. The very first Ranger Battalion had actually been decimated in Anzio and also removed from the U.S. Army"s bespeak of battle. In other words, Captain Miller has actually been under intense press for 2 years. He additionally suffers intensely from the deaths the each one of his men and he has actually lost many.

Q: Early in the film, Captain müller reports to Lt. Col Anderson (Dennis Farina), his battalion commander, and gets his assignment to "Save exclusive Ryan." (In reality, the 2nd Ranger C.O. Was Lt. Col Rudder.) Miller an initial briefs Anderson top top what he"s been doing and points come an area ~ above the map where he took the end German towed 88MM artillery. However later in the film, when the formation is debating whether to assault the an equipment gun nest at the radar site, Pvt. Jackson says "we left lock 88s," and Miller states "yeah, because that the air Force." go they strike the 88s or not? Is that an error?

A: No, simply a an outcome of editing. Jackson is talking around different 88s. As soon as Miller and his funny men collection off indigenous Omaha Beach, they"re in a jeep. Following we view them ~ above foot. What was in the script yet omitted indigenous the finished product was when their jeep came under fire indigenous German 88s and was destroyed, together with most of their ammunition. (Remember when Capt Miller speak Capt Hamill in Neuville that they shed most of their ammunition?) Those room the 88s Jackson is talk about. Spielberg had actually to edit out around 20 minutes of the movie so it wouldn"t it is in rated NC-17.

Q: Did Upham yes, really shoot Steamboat Willie? His body doesn"t show up visible once Upham tells the other Germans to bug out.

A: Yes, he shot him. The display screen shot is for this reason tight the you have the right to only simply make the end Steamboat Willie"s boot. But Upham is looking under at the body. Besides, the script states he did.

Q: Where is Pvt Jackson supposed to it is in from?

A: Tennessee

Q: How old is Captain Miller?

A: Let"s apply some turning back engineering. He"s been in the Rangers since the phibìc Africa campaign. That"s means he most likely joined the military shortly after Pearl Harbor. Let"s speak he"s been in nearly three years. Climate he claimed he taught high institution for eleven years. He might have taught somewhere else prior to then, but let"s just leave his teaching career in ~ eleven. The was probably no younger 보다 22 once he perfect college. That makes him around 36 at the youngest. By method of contrast, James Gavin, that was the assistant department commander that the 82nd Airborne at Normandy, to be a Lieutenant basic at period 36.

Q: Would Captain Miller have actually won the Medal that Honor for his actions?

A: Probably and also in the book, he was awarded that posthumously. However, in the film we understand he wasn"t given the Medal that Honor. How have the right to we tell? in ~ the Omaha beach cemetery, the winners that the Medal the Honor have the surname on your cross highlighted with gold lettering. Miller"s cross wasn"t.

Q: If Miller"s squad remained in such a hurry, why did they take the moment to ask Wade and also those dead paratroopers native the 82nd Airborne?

A: In actual life, they most likely wouldn"t have. After ~ making all the noise, castle would have been anxious to acquire on under the road before enemy infantry or artillery come calling. They"re an alleged to be behind foe lines, ~ all. However remember, this is a movie. We would have missed all the drama with Steamboat Willie. Events have to it is in compressed come tell the story.

Q: Why didn"t the Tiger tanks use their bow device gun? They could have conveniently wiped out numerous of the Americans v it.

A: great question and also one we"ve wondered about also. We"ve come up v three possible solutions:

The tanks were out of machine gun ammo. The maker guns were not operable. The an equipment gun ammo come from Oskar Schindler"s factory in Czechoslovakia.


Q: Where to be the movie filmed?

A: The D-Day invasion scene to be filmed in ~ Wexford, Ireland. The remainder of the movie to be filmed in England. The village of Ramelle was created at a previous British Aerospace factory.

Q: Where were the opening and closing scenes filmed?

A: at the U.S. Armed forces Cemetery at Ste. Laurent-sur-Mer, France, i m sorry is on the bluffs over Omaha Beach.


Q: Is the film based upon a true story?

A: Yes but rather loosely. The real private Ryan was private Fritz Niland the the 101st Airborne Division. Two of his brothers were killed at Normandy and also a third was reported lacking and presumed dead in Burma. The army issued an stimulate to lug Private Niland home however nobody was sent in search of him since nobody knew wherein he was. He was discovered two mainly later, unaware of what had transpired. His brother in Burma later turned increase alive.

Q: Why were no allied soldiers portrayed in the film?

A: follow to Steven Spielberg, this to be a film around an American squad looking for an American soldier in the American sector. The was not a documentary about the Normandy battle. That was done in "The Longest Day." The Allied divisions that landed at Normandy had strict boundary lines, v the American troops ~ above the appropriate or West flank. The direction that Captain Miller"s squad required to look for private Ryan took them northwest, also further far from the British and Canadian sectors. If it will make the allied faithful any kind of happier, Barry Pepper, who portrayed Pvt. Jackson, is a Canadian.

Q: Why were no black soldiers portrayed in the film?

A: The U.S. Military was segregated during civilization War II. Back black systems did watch combat during the war, no black color combat units landed on D-Day.

Q: What is the definition of the Blue and Gray yin-and-yang symbol worn by Corporal Upham?

A: the is the department patch the the 29th Infantry Division, a national Guard department with troops native Virginia, Maryland, and DC the was well-known as the Blue-Gray Division, since it had actually regiments v ties come both the Confederate and Union Armies. Every U.S. Soldiers wore their department patch on their left shoulder.

Q: How precise are the weapons and also uniforms in the film?

A: Considering the production company is trying to reproduce devices that is over 50 year old, the weapons and uniforms are very accurate. Every uniform because that the cast and also extras had actually to it is in manufactured and then made come look worn. An instance of the problem Speilberg checked out is the soldiers" boots. His costume director discovered the firm that make the U.S. Army"s combat boots in civilization War II and got the precise instructions and also patterns. Climate she had actually 2000 bag of boots made and aged because that the actors.

Q: Plastic bags didn’t exist in 1944. Exactly how come the soldiers landing top top Omaha beach are presented with weapons enclosed in plastic bags?

A: Those weren’t plastic bags but bags make from a substance known as PLIOFILM. American soldiers at Normandy supplied such bags.

Q: What were the metal obstacles the American troops sheltered behind top top Omaha Beach?

A: Those obstacles were part of the German defenses and also were intended come rip out the bottom of ally landing craft. Rommel and also his employee assumed the Allies would attempt come land in ~ high tide, reducing the amount of open beach the ally troops would need to cover. If the Allies had actually landed at high tide, those steel obstacles would have been effective. However, allied planners elected to land in ~ low tide to disclose the obstacles.

Q: Why walk so many of the German soldiers at the battle of Ramelle have actually such short haircuts?

A: because many of the extras in the film were active duty soldiers and had brief haircuts.

Q: Who are the Sullivan brothers the army colonel in ~ the war Department referred to? He stated something about after what taken place to the Sullivan brothers, the military split the Ryan brothers up.

A: The Sullivan brother were 5 brothers from Waterloo, Iowa who offered aboard the light cruiser U.S.S. Juneau. All 5 brothers were eliminated in action in the naval battles of Guadacanal. After ~ that event the military took action to avoid brothers from serving in the very same unit come prevent comparable tragedies.

Q: What were the Rangers and paratroopers calling the end in the village of Neuville? that sounded choose "Dunder." Is this some type of password or a French word?

A: the word was "Thunder," and also it to be a challenge word. It was something the GIs would call out to persons unknown. The correct an answer was "Flash." difficulty and answer passwords were specifically valuable in poor visibility situations. Thunder and also Flash were the words actually used during the Normandy invasion.

Q: What were those tanks the Germans had at Ramelle? to be they realistic?

A: two Tiger tanks and also two Marder tanks. The Marders were actually open-turret tank destroyers, and yes, the tanks were about as realistic together is possible for a movie made 50 years after the end of human being War II. Once Jackson signaled indigenous the bell tower, he described the Marders as Panzers, i beg your pardon was more than likely generic shorthand for an unknown kind of adversary armor.

Q: Did Americans yes, really shoot prisoners?

A: Unfortunately, yes, top top occasion. This happened on every sides and also isn’t every that unusual for soldiers the have been in deadly combat and also have seen their ideal friends killed. Miller’s formation would have actually been especially enraged at Steamboat Willie due to the fact that their medic had actually been shot. Medics were classified as non-combatants and were not an alleged to it is in fired upon.

Q: The standoff in Neuville in between the American and German soldiers appears farfetched.

A: fact is stranger than fiction. The history of D-Day is replete with stories that seem even much more farfetched than the Neuville standoff but they actually happened.

Q: How specific is the opened scene in ~ Omaha Beach?

A: In the indigenous of many veterans who have seen it, as well bloody accurate. For instance, what occurred in the film when the ramp goes down on that very first landing handmade is practically exactly what happened to agency A, 116th Regiment the the 29th Infantry Division. Ninety percent of its soldier were killed in the very first minute of the landing.

Q: Why were the German tank leaders wearing black color uniforms? Was that a Hollywood machine having the negative guys wear black?

A: nothing of the sort. German tank crews wore black color uniforms. The film was meticulously accurate regarding uniforms, weapons, tactics, and jargon.

Q: When Miller’s squad finally uncovered their man, Ryan introduced himself as “Ryan, very first of the 506th.” His buddy said “Third the the 506th.” What walk this mean?

A: It’s usual of the way GIs introduce themselves, even to this day. It’ s your address, if you will. First of the 506th expected he to be from the an initial Battalion of the 506th Regiment. 3rd of the 506th meant 3rd Battalion.

Q: Why weren’t the German defenses in ~ Omaha beach knocked out by airpower and the marine bombardment?

A: due to the fact that of concern around hitting allied troops, allied bombers were ordered to delay their drop allude a pair of seconds inland. Subsequently all their bombs fell well behind the German defenses. The marine bombardment was curtailed in effort to preserve the aspect of surprise. However, a an essential element come the U.S. Troops acquiring off the beach at Omaha were the U.S. Navy destroyers that closed ~ above the shore till there to be literally just a couple of customs of water beneath their keel. At suggest blank variety they dueled through the German total emplacements and also cleared exit from the beach.

Q: Why was the water therefore deep when the troops acquired off the landing craft?

A: The coxswains unloading your troops too far out caused some that this. In numerous cases, however, there were deep pools of water brought about by exploding navy shells that had fallen short. These deep holes couldn’t be viewed from the landing craft and so troops who believed they were unloading right into shallow water stepped off right into water the was 30-feet deep in some cases.

Q: Did it only take 30 minute to obtain off the coast at Omaha?

A: No, that took an ext than half a day and also cost hundreds of casualties, even an ext than illustrated in the film. Yet nobody would want to sit through four or 5 hours the carnage waiting for Captain Miller and his guys to get off the beach.

Q: How exact is the location of the film?

A: Well, Normandy yes, really does exist, together did Omaha Beach. Neuville additionally is a actual village. The Merderet flow is real. Various other towns stated in the film, Caen, Vierville, St. Lo, Volognes, and Cherbourg are likewise real. Yet Ramelle is fictitious.

Q: Were the allied paratroopers really scattered all over the place?

A: Yes. That the 6 regiments that American paratroopers launched right into Normandy, just two got their men to the ideal drop zones. Ironically, one of those regiments to be the 506th, which in the movie was private Ryan’s regiment.

Q: At Omaha Beach, Captain Miller claims no DD Tanks are obtaining ashore. What space DD tanks?

A: They were M-4 Sherman tanks designed to float in to the beach. The DD way duplex drive, meaning they had actually a drive device to propel them v the water and also on land. The tanks were additionally equipped with an blow up skirt to carry out buoyancy. This floating tanks had a really low freeboard, however, and also could swamp conveniently in stormy seas. That"s precisely what taken place at D-Day. Most of the DD Shermans went directly to the bottom as soon as launched, drowning your crews. One battalion, on order from rear Admiral Kirk, rode their LCTs appropriate to the beach and unloaded without any difficulty. The the 29 released 5000 meters offshore, just two make it to the beach.

Q: What to be the definition of Dog eco-friendly Sector at the start of the film? that sounds choose a goofy name.

A: The Allies arbitrarily divided the beaches right into sectors and assigned letters of the phonetic alphabet to them. In the alphabet of the time, A was Able, B was Baker, C to be Charlie, D to be Dog, E to be Easy, and so on. Omaha sectors were Able with George when Utah Beach had Peter with William. Every sector was more subdivided right into three colors, Green, White, and also Red (West to East). Not all the sectors would be used. Omaha, because that instance, was just going to usage Charlie v Fox. Straightforward Sector top top Omaha was only divided into Red and Green. The 29th Infantry Division, 5th Rangers and also Charlie Company, 2nd Rangers were to land on Dog Green. The first Infantry division landed at simple Red and also Green.

Q: What to be the definition of the horizontal and also vertical white stripes top top the ago of some of the Americans’ helmets?

A: Officers had actually a upright white stripe. Non-commissioned police officers (such together Sergeant Horvath and Corporal Upham) had a white horizontal stripe on the earlier of the helmet. It to be to determine the management to the males following.

Q: What room the Rangers? are they Marines?

A: The Rangers are elite infantry of the U.S. Army. The U.S. Marines did no fight in Europe during civilization War II. The ranger were hand-picked volunteer from other U.S. Infantry divisions and also were modeled top top the brothers commandos. Your motto, "Rangers command the Way" was earned ~ above Omaha Beach. The surname Rangers was taken from Rodger"s Rangers, the unique American scouting force that served the British military during the French-and-Indians War. Their job was to "range" ahead of the main army and locate the enemy. Kenneth Roberts" publication "Northwest Passage" was around the Rodger"s Rangers.

Q: The soldiers in the film didn"t use lot profanity. That couldn"t have actually been accurate, can it?

A: George Patton notwithstanding, one need to realize that these soldiers to be the products of a different generation. American on median did not frequently resort to profanity nor typically tolerate those who did. This "Citizen Soldiers" to be from that society. Plenty of veterans interviewed around the film have stated that even in combat the use of profanity wasn"t all that common and also when it was used, it really acquired their attention. Would "Saving private Ryan" have actually been a more powerful movie if the characters had been speaking favor they to be in a Quentin Tarantino film? Doubtful.

Q: Sergeant Horvath hauling approximately souvenir dirt seems farfetched. And also the lids of his dirt containers look prefer they were labeled through a magic marker. They didn"t have actually those earlier then, did they?

A: It"s a movie, remember? v that one straightforward little scene, the audience realizes the Sergeant Horvath is a long-time veteran. We don"t need to waste a totality bunch that dialog delving into his background. We know he"s checked out a most combat. If he"d really had actually such a souvenir collection, the wouldn"t have lugged the ashore at Omaha Beach, yet so what? just imagine the containers to be smaller and also he"d labeling the tops through blue paint. There"s many paint easily accessible on ships.

Q: What space those balloons ~ above the beach as soon as Miller and also his squad set off to discover Private Ryan?

A: Those space barrage balloons, which were used to discourage low-flying opponent aircraft. The balloons trailed steel cables, which would sheer turn off the wings of aircraft that encountered them.

Q: exactly how come some of the American soldiers in the movie wore puttees (what the British call gaiters) while others didn"t?

A: v the exemption of paratroopers, American infantrymen, including the Rangers, wore the puttees. However, paratroopers, walk not. Castle bloused their trousers end the peak of your jump boots. It caused the distinction of non-Airborne soldiers being recognized as "straight-leg" or "leg" infantry. In the step at the gliders when the airborne troops space filing previous Miller"s men, some of the troops space wearing puttees if others have actually their trousers bloused over their boots. The ones v the puttees room glider troops. Also though they to be in an airborne division, glider infantrymen were no accorded the "privilege" that blousing their trousers. In fact, the bad glider troops to be not also given the jump pay the their parachuting comrades received, also though walk to battle in a flimsy glider was probably just as dangerous and more terrifying 보다 dropping in via parachute.

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Q: What are some of the feasible errors in the movie (as detailed by Normandy veterans and keen-eyed observers of the movie)?

1. Once were the Ryan brothers last together? as soon as Mrs. Ryan it s okay the telegram over there is a photograph on a table by she front door of four men together in uniform. In ~ the battle Department step it is listed that all 4 brothers to be in the same agency in the 29th Infantry department but climate were split up. However in the village when Ryan is reminiscing around his brothers with Captain Miller, he speak a story the story the Alice Jardine and also says that was the critical night his brothers were together. Best solution: Ryan intended that was the last time they were together at home. The noisy patrol. As soon as the squad very first sets the end to look at for exclusive Ryan, they make a good deal the noise as Corporal Upham concerns them. Ranger (or any type of experienced infantrymen) would certainly never have actually been for this reason careless because noise intended death. This scene was probably artistic license to help sketch the characters of the film. The absent bodies in ~ the peak of the stairs. Personal Mellish and also Corporal Henderson shoot 2 German soldiers exterior the enntrance gate to the room they’re in. Yet when we check out Corporal Upham frozen ~ above the stairs, the bodies have vanished. The Captain’s bars. Captain Miller had actually his rank painted on his helmet. Knowledgeable combat officers (i.e. Those who endured their an initial day that combat) obliterated all sign of rank from their person lest they tempt the interest of opponent snipers. While many officers did have actually their rank prominently shown on your helmet, these were usually rear echelon varieties who never gained close to the sound that gunfire. The dorn combat patch. Soldiers who have remained in combat are enabled to wear your unit job on their best shoulder. Throughout the scene at the war Department, Colonel I.W. Bryce, the one-armed colonel, has a combat job of the 2nd Infantry Division. This isn"t possible because the 2nd Infantry department did no see any kind of combat till June 7, 1944. One obscure error. Bryce might have lost his eight in the an initial World War, despite he looked too young to be a WWI vet. In the book based top top the manuscript he supposedly lost his arm in combat in Sicily. (Incidentally, among the producer of the film is Ian Bryce. Neat means to sneak her name into the show.) The reappearing arm. The exact same Colonel Bryce regrows his lacking left eight in basic Marshall"s office. Watch carefully as the camera pans from basic Marshall to assembled officers. Apparently the military reissued Colonel Bryce his left arm. Part think it can just it is in a zero that reasons this illusion. Ghost in the squad. Simply prior to the machine-gun colony attack, Miller’s squad is checked out in a summary view through eight members. They began out with eight but Private Caparzo was eliminated at Neuville. The formation is haunted. In the film, personal Ryan’s fall zone is supposedly near Neuville. The city is likewise depicted as lived in by paratroopers native the 101st Airborne Division. In reality Neuville remained in the 82nd Airborne Division’s area, just north the the 505th Regiment’s autumn zone. Private Ryan’s regiment was actually dropped 7-10 kilometers to the south east in the vicinity that Vierville. A minor allude only for the in history obsessed. Which company is Ryan really in? when Miller an initial sets the end to look for Ryan, the missing private is claimed to it is in in Baker firm of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment. However at the glider landing zone wherein the squad find the deafened soldier who knows Ryan, he’s moved right into Charlie Company. Yet the soldier can have just gained confused regarding which company Ryan was in. The would have been straightforward mistake come make. Both carriers were in the very same battalion. The P-51s that save the day in ~ Ramelle don"t have bomb racks. A an extremely obscure mistake at the glider landing zone: the squad philosophies a makeshift table to look v the dog tags. The table has nothing on it in the first shot but when they obtain to it, Pvt. Jackson kicks a K-ration box off it. Somehow the box jumped onto the table. Because that the really, really sharp eyed: the .30 caliber maker gun ammo is lacking the primers. Wrong-way poles. In the Omaha coast scene several of the obstacles are pointed in the wrong direction. We"re introduce to the huge wooden obstacles, no the metal tetrahedrons that the U.S. Troops sheltered behind. These wooden obstacles included a log approximately the dimension of a telephone pole v one end elevated and supported by two various other logs. The raised finish was an alleged to challenge the beach. The idea was the an just arrive landing craft would certainly ride increase the pole and detonate the novelist mine in ~ the finish of it. However in the opened beach scene, the elevated end of these poles is facing the water. Later during the Omaha coast sequence the poles have actually reversed direction and are facing the suitable way.



A: an age-old military acronym—Fouled Up past All recognition (the PG version). Cousin to SNAFU—Situation Normal, all Fouled Up. Often used together a verb, together in ‘We yes, really FUBARED that.”

Q: What was the name of the Edith Piaf tune Upham to be translating in the village?

A: "Tu Es Partous" (Phonetically: two A Par Two, obviously a song about miniature golf)

Q: What to be the track Melish sings?

A: "Solitude" by duke Ellington et al.

Q: Whom to be the Czech Wehrmacht soldier referred to in the credits?

A: No figuring what Hollywood is thinking. After acquisition the bluffs above Omaha Beach 2 Wehrmacht soldiers attempting come surrender room shot by two Rangers. Among the Wehrmacht soldiers to be speaking Czech. However according to an additional web website whose author has sources associated with the production, the Czech Wehrmacht soldier to be the killer that Mellish, although the character was in the SS, never spoke Czech, and there were no other clues identifying him as Czech. All in all, it has actually no bearing ~ above the film.