|Film Title/Year and Description|
Saving Private Ryan (1998)
Director Steven Spielberg's WWII-era film documented the bloody beach assault at Normandy (in June of 1944) in its first 30 minutes. However, a few other death scenes were just as notable.
In another intense combat scene set on the second story of a heavily-damaged building, an unnamed Waffen-SS German soldier engaged in a lengthy hand-to-hand struggle with tough Brooklyn Jew - Pvt. Stanley Mellish (Adam Goldberg).
The German slowly gained the upper hand when exhaustion set in. A drawn bayonet knife was turned around and pointed toward Mellish's own chest, as the American begged: "Listen to me, listen to me, Stop! Stop!"
The German slowly pushed the knife into Mellish's chest, whispering something to him about being quiet and giving up since it would be over soon. Mellish's body shook slightly as his life left him.
Wounded and unable to move on the stairs only a few feet away, Timothy Upham (Jeremy Davies) had failed to defend Mellish.
Saving Private Ryan (1998)
Commanding officer Captain John Miller (Tom Hanks) poignantly sacrificed his life, when critically wounded by heavy German fire while trying to defend Ramelle's bridge against an expected German attack. Captain Miller was knocked to the ground by the blast of a German tank shell. A detonation device for explosives had been knocked out of his hands, and as he moved across the bridge to retrieve it, Miller was fatally shot in the chest. The shot had been fired by "Steamboat Willie," the same German soldier that Miller had set free earlier.
As he died, he leaned himself against a motorcycle as a tank approached his position. He made a last stand by firing at the tank as it got closer, until P-51 tankbuster bomber support arrived.
A medic was called to treat Miller. His final heroic, weakly-muttered words were an order to PFC James Ryan (Matt Damon) to 'earn' the sacrifices that saved him on the mission, before his eyes flickered and he ceased living:
In voice-over, a lengthy letter from General Chief of Staff George C. Marshall to Ryan's mother was read. It informed her that her sole surviving, youngest son was alive and returning home from the European battlefield:
The Thin Red Line (1998)
Reclusive director Terrence Malick's third feature film in 25 years was this acclaimed philosophical war film with lush cinematography, portraying soldiers during WWII.
During patrol on the island of Guadalcanal, introspective U.S. Army Private Robert Witt (James Caviezel) was shot to death after a selfless, sacrificial action.
He had successfully acted as a decoy to lure the Japanese away from his two companions (Corporal Geoffrey Fife (Adrien Brody) and Private Coombs (Matt Doran)), and the rest of their unit, but found himself surrounded in a clearing by enemy soldiers. He contemplatively mused to himself in voice-over, about calmly facing his own fateful death like his mother had done:
As the Japanese moved in, he raised his rifle and was instantly killed. After his death, the film cut to an upward-looking shot of plants and trees in the jungle and then to Witt swimming in the ocean with native boys.
Later, his body was buried in a shallow grave with his rifle and helmet as a marker.
Urban Legend (1998)
This horror film's many death set-pieces were committed by an unknown "urban legend" serial killer, revealed by film's end.
In the film's opening scene, current 20 year-old Pendleton University student Michelle Mancini (Natasha Gregson Wagner) was decapitated with an axe wielded by someone in the back seat of her car. She might have avoided dying, but she nervously fled before heeding the helpful warning of creepy, stuttering gas-station attendant Michael McDonald (Brad Dourif):
There were at least three other memorable deaths:
Waking Ned Devine (1998, UK)
Set in Ireland, this British comedy film told of the circumstances surrounding the death of Ned Devine (Jimmy Keogh), when he shockingly learned that his ticket was the winner of the Irish National Lottery's Lotto game. Efforts commenced by the townsfolk to fool the claims inspector (by pretending that Ned was still alive), and split the prize money among the town's inhabitants.
Uncooperative, wheelchair-bound, witchy spinster Lizzy Quinn (Eileen Dromey) suffered an untimely demise while she was in a cliff-side phone booth. She was calling to inform lottery officials and expose the fraud that was being perpetrated, and to claim 10% of the prize (about 680,000 pounds). The booth was struck by the parish priest's van-truck, avoiding the lotto representative's swerving car when he sneezed. The booth sailed into the air and crashed far below on the cliff's shore.
At the same time, all of the Tullymore townsfolk were celebrating their fraudulent winnings (130,000 pounds each) and a violin string broke during a high note.
What Dreams May Come (1998)
This supernatural fantasy drama-romance (with a Best Visual Effects Oscar) began with a horrific death in a car crash accident, the second car-related tragedy for the same family. Middle-aged pediatrician Dr. Christian "Chris" Nielsen (Robin Williams) died at the scene of a multi-car wreck in a tunnel. He had safely stopped his own vehicle, and rushed ahead on foot to find cars ahead of him turned upside down. When he was asking questions of a survivor needing help, he was smashed into by a white automobile catapulting toward him, before the screen turned black.
The next shot was "the mythical light" at the end of the tunnel, and then a top-shot as the doctor's body was placed on a stretcher by ambulance paramedics. A voice asked: "Chris, do you know what's happened?" He replied, jokingly: "Yeah, I had a bad piece of fish before bed." The screen turned to a blinding white light - as he lingered on Earth in a hospital bed. Although Chris didn't want to accept it and thought he was dreaming, he had died and couldn't be seen by his family members, relatives, and friends at his home, who were mourning his passing. His spiritual guide (Cuba Gooding, Jr.) told him: "You've died, Chris."
As the story unfolded, the dead victim risked taking a journey from Heaven to Hell in the afterlife to rescue his beautiful wife Annie's (Annabella Sciorra) soul, after she committed suicide due to overwhelming grief and devastation. Very imaginative vistas and scenarios in Heaven and imprisoning dark Hell were presented.
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