Letters from Iwo Jima

Release Date: December 20, 2006
Limited release

Why is my flag in color but not me?

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35/200 Max Braden Better than Flags of Our Fathers, I think it might have been even stronger without the voiceover. The score is a touch too overtly angsty.

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Clint Eastwood's Flags of Our Fathers was highly anticipated in advance of its release in October of 2006. When it finally played on screens across the country, though, it was met with ambivalence. Critical reception wasn't on a par with much of Eastwood's other work, and the box office was average at best, under budget at worst. Letters from Iwo Jima is Eastwood's examination of the same story from the point of view of the Japanese armies, and it is hoping to have a greater shot at awards glory.

The movie begins in the present day, when several hundred letters are unearthed from the soil of Iwo Jima. These letters give faces and humanity to the Japanese men who fought there, including their heroic General Tadamichi Kuribayashi. His tactics were able to transform a battle that was figured as an easy win for the Allied forces into 40 days of ingenious combat.

Eastwood's goal, ultimately was to show that this war was a battle not only of arms, but also of cultures. It would have been easy to simply show the side of the Americans who raised the flag, but he took the more complex route of exploring both sides of the story in depth. Letters from Iwo Jima is scheduled for an Academy Awards qualifying run, and it will be fascinating to see if either one manages nominations. (Kim Hollis/BOP)



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