| Flags of our Fathers (2006) |
This film covers the life stories of the six men who raised the flag at The Battle of Iwo Jima, a key battle in the Pacific Theater of WWII. It was the first battle on Japanese soil, so it was symbolic to the Japanese. The American forces desperately needed the island to use as an airport from which they could launch attacks into the heart of Japan. The battle would produce one of World War IIís most enduring images: a photograph of six soldiers raising an American flag on the top of Mount Suribachi.
Flags of Our Fathers is based on a New York Times Bestseller book of the same name. The book is about a manís quest to learn more about his father, a medical corpsman at the Battle of Iwo Jima.
The movie focuses on what happened to the men after the famous battle. In the photo, six men raised the flag. Three were killed during the battle. Three were proclaimed heroes and flown home. Their new job was to tour the country giving speeches encouraging people to buy war bonds.
This is the most realistic war movie I have ever seen. It is so realistic that it is not much fun. It is a sort of intellectual entertainment, but emotionally it makes you very sad.
The film has its moments though. At one point we look down on the US fleet getting ready to attack. There are hundreds of ships and thousands of landing craft. It is just as stirring from the deck of one of the ships, as fighter planes zoom between the ships.
When the battle starts, so much is thrown at the island that it is hard to believe that anything could survive. It is incredible to watch!
The close in fighting is very gruesome, including flame-throwers. Most of the battle scenes are flashbacks. This is a problem. There are too many flashbacks and it becomes predictable after a while. "Oh no! Not another flashback."
But soldiers do have flashbacks, and this film is about the soldiers of WWII and soldiers in general. We ask them to do a horrible, nasty job at the cost of their health both physical and mental and perhaps they do not receive the respect or other rewards that should be their due.
Ira Hays, an aboriginal played by Adam Beach, returns to face prejudice and discrimination at every turn despite being a famous war hero. One wonders how he would be treated if he were just a common soldier.
Rene Gagnon, played by Jesse Bradford, is initially offered lucrative marketing jobs. These offers are later revoked and he works until retirement as a custodian.
The parents of one of the three dead flag raisers are lied to and do not learn the truth until years later.
There is something shameful in using young men to do our dirty work and treating them shabbily from start to finish. That, I believe is the theme of the movie.
This film is expected to be Oscar material, but pro-war hawks may find the film to be too liberal. That's Cint Eastwood directing the shooting. A few years have passed since he played a cowboy on Rawhide.
The film is meant to be a tribute to all the soldiers, by showing them as complete human beings rather than just as soldiers. When we see them in this way, we can better appreciate their courage and sacrifice.
- Reviewed by: Paul G.
Rated: R in the USA and 15 in the UK due to extreme war violence.
Duration: 2 hours &12 minutes