Archive for the ‘clint eastwood’ Category

Letters from Iwo Jima (2006) and Flags of Our Fathers (2006)

February 21, 2007
In February and March of 1945 America and Japan struggled in a 35 day battle over an island in the Pacific Ocean named Iwo Jima. Clint Eastwood (director of Million Dollar Baby and Mystic River) has made two films chronicling the lives of American (Flags of our Fathers) and Japanese (Letters from Iwo Jima) soldiers.

Both of these films follow in the anti-war tradition by focusing on the human face of social conflicts. Flags tells the story of three men, John “Doc” Bradley, Ira Hayes and Rene Gagnon, who became famous for being in a photo, raising a flag on Iwo Jima (see movie poster). They are soon sent for by the government to be the spokespeople for raising money for the war effort. The story is told by the son of Bradley, one of the flag raisers. Using interviews and flashbacks, the story comes to a climax in the final scenes when Bradley tells his son about the catastrophe of war and the construction of heroes. The main theme of Flags is the way in which we define heroes and give political meaning to our actions. The film does a great job of making the viewer more reflective about the complexity of war.

Letters is a more traditional film, following the lives of Saigo, General Tadamichi Kuribayashi and Baron Nishi, as they dig in for the long and continually bleakening battle ahead. Through flashbacks you come to know these men and the tension they feel in fighting for their country and the longing for home and family. In the end, these men realize that fighting is not the purpose of their lives; rather, it is the dignity and worth they have as human beings in life and in death. Rather than killing themselves, as so many of their fellow officers do, they value the honor of their lives. Like Flags, this film also allows the viewer to critically reflect on the tragedy of war. The directing is well done and there are good performances by Ryan Phillippe, Adam Beach, Ken Watanabe and Kazunari Ninomiya.

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IMDB (Letters) (Flags)