Director: Clint Eastwood
Cast: Ken Watanabe, Kazunari Ninomiya, Tsuyoshi
Ihara, Ryo Kase, Shido Nakamura, Yuki Matsuzaki, Hiroshi Watanabe,
Takumi Bando, Nobumasa Sakagami, Takashi Yamaguchi, Nae Yuuki
RunTime: 2 hrs 21 mins
Released By: Warner Bros
Rating: NC-16 (War Violence)
Day: 22 February 2007
Sixty-one years ago, U.S. and Japanese armies met
on Iwo Jima. Decades later, several hundred letters are unearthed
from that stark island’s soils. The letters give faces
and voices to the men who fought there, as well as the extraordinary
general who led them, Tadamichi Kuribayashi (Ken Watanabe).
With little defense other than sheer will and the volcanic
rock of the island itself, Gen. Kuribayashi’s unprecedented
tactics transform what was predicted to be a quick and bloody
defeat into nearly 40 days of heroic and resourceful combat.
In an effort to explore an event that continues to resonate
with both cultures, Clint Eastwood was haunted by the sense
that making only one film, Flags of Our Fathers, would be
telling only half the story. With this unprecedented dual
film project, shot back-to-back to be released in sequence,
Eastwood seeks to reveal the battle of Iwo Jima – and,
by implication, the war in the Pacific – as a clash
not only of arms but of cultures.
For their role in the World War 2, the Japanese
armies have always been seen as cruel and brutal devils that
are capable of inhumane acts to mankind. In Clint Eastwood’s
Flags of our Fathers, this scheming and relentless group gave
the US armies a tough 40 days of warfare at Iwo Jima.
was the island really so precious to all the Japanese soldiers
and are they that scheming and relentless in protecting this
island. Letters from Iwo Jima, the companion movie to Flags
of our Fathers, will bring viewers to the other side of the
historic battle, to see thru the eyes of the “enemy”,
giving a more balanced view of that one battle than any other
war movies had ever managed to achieve.
from Iwo Jima touches on the different behavior of the Japanese
military personal involved in defending Iwo Jima and their
correspondence with their family sharing their inmost thoughts
and fears. Though the letters, it revealed another side of
the Japanese armies that most of us would probably not have
expected it. Lacking resources and the will to battle, the
Japanese soldiers endured and pressed on for the sake of their
honors and beliefs that borderline between admiration and
Watanabe, the current Hollywood “Go To Guy” in
the Japanese talent pool is proving once again why he is worth
his weight in Gold. Once again he display charm almost effortlessly
as General Tadamichi Kuribayashi and if you are preparing
for a doomed battle, it’s not too bad to have Ken Watanabe
as your leader.
the lesser known actor aspect, Kazunari Ninomiya who played
Saigo, the baker forced to become a solider stood out as the
most touching and heart breaking tale. His tale represents
the group of soldiers who didn’t want to fight the war
but circumstances robbed him of everything and placed him
in the frontline of a war that he didn’t want to fight.
Fighting on a side that seems destined to lose, hopes of him
going back to see his wife and unborn daughter were seemly
bleak. It’s hard not to be emoted by his desire to return
to his family and that really engages the audience to root
for him to survive this horrific war.
made Letters from Iwo Jima a slightly stronger film than Flags
of our Fathers would have to be end results of the war. While
the US soldiers in Flags had to deal with the horror of war
in the midst of celebration and being an unwilling celebrity,
the Japanese soldiers only had the defeat to face and survival
isn’t an option in the proud Japanese warrior tradition.
This made it a darker and stronger film about self preservation
and a great study of honor in the Japanese tradition.
is the most absurd thing. I suspect these two movies are Clint
Eastwood’s stance on wars, both past and present. Why
are citizens from both side of the war suffering for the views
of a group of despot who hunger for more power and wealth?
Though the battle at Iwo Jima had passed for 50 years, the
director still managed to bring out the same question that
is relevant today. Even if the war is paved with good intention,
there will always be innocent suffering and is it really worth
going to war for?
(A worthy contender for Oscar Best Picture in 2007)
Review by Richard Lim Jr