"It took us three months to gather the 2,000 weapons that we used in the film. About 500 of them were capable of firing blanks, the others were rubber. They all needed dusting, cleaning and painting each evening.

We brought them all from England. Some of our weapons came from Germany, but a lot of the American Artillery is in England.

Of course, we had to deactivate certain weapons and make sure they weren't capable of firing live ammunition," offers Simon Atherton, armorer.

An invasion calls for a sizable number of armed forces, and when you need armed forces, the best place to turn is the military. The Irish army provided 750 extras for the D-Day scene, many of whom were movie veterans, having worked of Mel Gibson's "Braveheart."

Feeding and costuming so many extras might have been a logistical nightmare were it not for a system dubbed "the sausage machine," originally perfected by associate producer Kevin De La Noy when he also worked on "Braveheart." The extras were broken down into 15 groups of 50, which were fed, clothed, and made up in varying order. At the end of the day, each group went back through the system in reverse. It worked like a proverbial well-oiled machine.

Virtually none of the uniforms from World War II are still in existence today, so costume designer Joanna Johnston had to have more than 3,000 authentic uniforms of the day made from scratch to outfit all the principals, as well as many of the extras. Johnston also located the company that made the original American troops' boots and had 2,000 pairs of boots made using the same pattern. Than, all the uniforms and boots had to be put through an aging process to make them appear battle-worn.

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Saving Private Ryan © 1998 DreamWorks SKG & Paramount Pictures Corporation & Amblin Entertainment, Inc.
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