Letters from Iwo Jima (2006)



Critic Consensus: A powerfully humanistic portrayal of the perils of war, this companion piece to Flags of our Fathers is potent and thought-provoking, and it demonstrates Clint Eastwood's maturity as a director.

Movie Info

After bringing the story of the American soldiers who fought in the battle of Iwo Jima to the screen in his film Flags of Our Fathers, Clint Eastwood offers an equally thoughtful portrait of the Japanese forces who held the island for 36 days in this military drama. In 1945, World War II was in its last stages, and U.S. forces were planning to take on the Japanese on a small island known as Iwo Jima. While the island was mostly rock and volcanoes, it was of key strategic value and Japan's … More

Rating: R (for graphic war violence)
Genre: Drama
Directed By:
Written By: Iris Yamashita
In Theaters:
On DVD: May 22, 2007
Box Office: $13.7M
Warner Bros. Pictures - Official Site


as Gen. Tadamichi Kurib...

as Baron Nishi

as Hanako Saigo

as Lieutenant Ito

as Shimizu

as Lt. Fujita

as Capt. Tanida

as kashiwara

as Lt. Okubo

as Admiral Ohsugi

as Medic Endo

as Lt. Colonel Oiso

as Captain Iwasaki

as Private Yamazaki

as Colonel Adachi

as Maj. General Hayashi

as Lead Woman

as Admiral Ichimaru

as American Officer

as Officer's Wife

as Tired Soldier

as Suicide Soldier

as Hashimoto

as Japanese Soldier No....

as Japanese Soldier No....

as Japanese Soldier No....

as Japanese Soldier No....

as Kid Marine

as Ito's Guard

as Ito's Soldier

as Hopeless Soldier

as American Marine

as Marine Officer

as Marine No. 2

as Marine No. 4

as Cave Soldier No. 1

as Cave Soldier No. 2

as Excavator No. 1

as Excavator No. 2

as Lead Excavator

as Kuribayashi's Guard

as Marine at Clearing

as Marine at Clearing

as Marine Lieutenant

as Okubo's Soldier

as Pilot No. 1
Show More Cast

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Critic Reviews for Letters from Iwo Jima

All Critics (197) | Top Critics (47)

Modern-day echoes of being snookered into a bad war aren't lost on Clint Eastwood, and "Letters from Iwo Jima" delivers an overwhelmingly powerful eulogy for the death of righteousness in combat on either side of the line.

Full Review… | September 19, 2010

Not an anti-war tract or a glorification but, rather, a fair consideration of humanity that exists within the inhumanity of armed conflict.

Full Review… | October 23, 2009
ReelTalk Movie Reviews

Eastwood's cinema is one of resolutely moral images

Full Review… | August 28, 2009

Eastwood is a master of the extended look (this comes from the two directors he acknowledges as his own masters, Sergio Leone and Don Siegel), the look that stretches time and that is blinded by what it sees.

Full Review… | April 23, 2009
Boston Phoenix

The most important film of 2006 was Clint Eastwood's Letters from Iwo Jima. In 20 years Letters from Iwo Jima will be a classic.

Full Review… | February 2, 2009
Fayetteville Free Weekly

War is hell, always has been, and movies will continue to confirm it for anyone who might doubt. In this case, though, Letters only shows that for all the different perspective the other side of a war could have, it's the same old movie clichés.

Full Review… | November 20, 2008

Audience Reviews for Letters from Iwo Jima

Uh oh. I don't think I dug this nearly as much as everyone else. Clint went to great lengths to humanize the Japanese soldiers - almost to the point of neglecting to show the scale and ferocity of the actual conflict.

Tell you what, I'm gonna go watch the companion piece Flags of Our Fathers and see it that changes things for me.

Bob Stinson

Super Reviewer


The story centres on Saigo, a young baker who is conscripted into defending the island of Iwo Jima as the last line of defence against the advancing American forces. The Japanese "forces" are shown as a dishevelled, barely equipped and starving rag tag collection of survivors huddled in underground caves, overwhelmed by the collective might of the US navy and suffering at the hands of fanatical commanding officers who are all too willing to commit "honourable" suicide. In a brave move, Clint Eastwood chooses to show the invasion of Japan from their perspective and not only that but actually uses Japanese actors speaking in Japanese; the entire film is subtitled which I'm sure went down a treat in Hicksville, USA. This is a very human war story, centering far more on the beautifully written and totally believable characters than individual politics. It's a wonderfully understated film, the performances first rate, the cinematography a stunning blend of documentary and artful visuals and it's accompanied by a haunting but subtle soundtrack. It's a million miles from the button pushing contrivances of most war films; probably because it was made by a member of the "enemy" nation and that's what makes it work so well as a very personal story. Saigo is shown as just another human being, just as the American troops are; some are murderous and selfish, others kind-hearted humanitarians. Which side they were on is irrelevant. But the main thought it raised with me was this; if this was the best "resistance" the Japanese had to offer, it seriously calls into question the strategic value of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

xGary Xx

Super Reviewer

For a movie that has had an amazing word of mouth, "Letters from Iwo Jima" surprisingly is not quite the punch that I'd thought it would be. That isn't to say, "Letters" was a bad movie -- just thought the film did very little to distinguish itself from the rest of the movies within the war genre.

Compared to your average war-movie, "Letters" has a bit more depth to it. Yes, visually, you're not gonna find much difference contrary to watching "Saving Private Ryan". The color palette, the shaky-cam, death and blood between quick-cuts, and dirt flinging up from ricocheting bullets are all done via "Saving Private Ryan"'s style except with a considerably lacking production value. Thus, the film seems to be another emulation of the visually and the viscerally spectacular, "Saving Private Ryan". But what "Letters from Iwo Jima" does differently compared to ANY war movie (from what I've seen) is the depiction of themes and struggles that have scarcely been covered in any type of American storytelling. This scarcity, much like how scarcely an American studio would humanize and show the perspective of America's opposing forces during WWII, is present because these themes and struggles are direct challenges of Japanese culture. Like a boss, Eastwood doesn't just leave these heavy themes on the eastern side of the world; he challenges both American and Japanese cultures, almost as if he speaks out to bring both parties at a healthy medium. The heavy and emotional narrative alone, gives "Letters from Iwo Jima" a distinctive identity of its own. The narrative does come heavy-handed though. Many movies that delve into traumatizing events like "The Pianist" or "The Pursuit of Happyness" always seem to fall into the same storytelling detriments: They focus on repetitively piling more and more saddening events without involving viewers emotionally with any of the characters and without introducing any new developments in the narrative. By the end, it just leaves you feeling numbed and saddened, wondering when the climax hit. "Letters from Iwo Jima" ALMOST falls into the same pit, but luckily, manages to pull out of this path and inject an emotional and immersive storyline that gives enough hope and enough characterization to pull out and see that this isn't a bash-fest of sorrow upon the audience.

The film isn't without its share of problems though. Editing can be sloppy, cinematography goes from down-right-gorgeous to muddy, and the direction for certain sequences is lazy. It's a shame because under all this mess lies an emotional core with extravagantly fantastic performances and screenplay that accentuate the multi-layered narrative to flying colors. This is hardly Clint Eastwood's best film, and "Letters", though has dynamic themes and challenges, isn't much more different than your typical war-movie, but this film as a whole, gives a true salute to the people that mustered up courage to put on a soldier's uniform, regardless of whether they were American or Japanese.

Albert Kim
Albert Kim

Super Reviewer

Letters from Iwo Jima Quotes

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