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With both of these movies, there's a common interest: the military's chain of command. The lack of autonomy and individual personhood that soldiers (on every side) have is disheartening, however necessary that may be. Eastwood takes the feel and look created by Spielberg in Saving Private Ryan, and works to create characters that are more complex and interesting than any in SPR. Too long and (at times) much too muted, this is still a powerful emotional roller coaster…but only the negative emotions.
It's nice to see a movie that portrays the Japanese as humans rather than savage killing maniacs. My only criticism: Its spoken in Japanese with English subtitles so I was too busy reading those and I couldn't really take in the movie's impressive visuals and convincing performances.
Liked the fact this was the Japanese soldiers point of view. Not a fan of war movies.
Profoundly empathetic and truly riveting filmmaking.
Clint Eastwood's empathetic war drama Letters from Iwo Jima (2006) remains one of Clint's most compassionate films, which is surprising considering his conservative political beliefs. Eastwood puts aside his own hate and vitriol to allow audiences to experience the Japanese soldier's perspective of World War II on the Pacific front. Eastwood demonstrates how some Americans invading Iwo Jima killed surrendered soldiers without any arms, while others followed their code of conduct and saved prisoners' lives over the course of the battle.
The main focus is placed entirely on the Japanese side that includes sympathetic generals, brutal generals, nationalistic soldiers, and fatigued soldiers that just want to go home. Letters from Iwo Jima is so powerful because Eastwood displays all manner of military men on the Japanese side for a comprehensive depiction of their ranks' inner workings. So, it's respectable that Clint Eastwood, a noted republican and American nationalist, would go to great lengths to fairly depict the Japanese side of WWII.
Eastwood's direction is really interesting with a slow pace allows for smaller character interactions and development. I love all the scenes of people just talking about their hopes, dreams, fears, plans, beliefs, creeds, families, friends, and duty. Eastwood shines with intimate spaces and genuine drama from his heartfelt cast's captivating performances.
However, he suddenly forgets how to direct the action sequences and opts for the laziest possible way by using shaky camera work to feign interesting combat. The battles in Letters from Iwo Jima are already fascinating due to their high stakes, scores of soldiers, and intense gunfights; however, many of these aspects are distracted by awful camera movement that doesn't allow you to follow what is happening. I also should mention how I don't care for the green filter Eastwood slapped on the entire film that just tints all the colors slightly more green. It's an odd effect that distracted me from certain moments much like the terrible CGI blood throughout Letters from Iwo Jima.
I adore Ken Watanabe as the kind and thoughtful general desperately trying to win an impossible battle against innumerable American troops. Watanabe captures your attention every second he is on screen. I appreciate how seriously he takes this role and it stands out as one of his finest acting performances. He is gentle and serene, yet tough and blunt as needed to convey his frustrations and orders. Watanabe is at his most compelling when he's just talking to his young soldiers.
All of the supporting cast is great with the other standouts being Kazunari Ninomiya, Tsuyoshi Ihara, and Ryo Kase among the general's soldiers on Iwo Jima. Nae Yuuki gets a poignant cameo as Hanako Saigo in flashbacks to Japan.
Overall, I think most viewers will be captivated by Clint Eastwood's direction and Letters from Iwo Jima's unbelievable story. Yet, I know most audiences will leave Letters from Iwo Jima remarking how empathetic and compassionate it is for the Japanese side.
I was surprised to see this is an American film. Clint Eastwood directing this and Flags of our fathers (2006) one after the other. American directors dont have a great reputation when it comes to historical films. Especially in more recent years. But this is really well done. The acting here is pretty good. Ken W as General Kuribayashi. And all the other main Japanese actors do very well. It's a pretty historically accurate film. In the battle for Iwo Jima, American loses surpassed that of the Japanese. This movie treats its audience like adults. It says "this is what happened and how it happened." It just shows it to you. The truth. The film treats you like a thinking adult not an emotionally sensitive child who cant handle it. It doesnt take advantage of your emotions unfairly. This movie feels authentic. It's all in Japanese, using actual Japanese actors. Which is great. Some effects do look a little dated but other then that it's fine. The film shows respect to the Japanese side by not making out like all Japanese are fanatical maniacs. It doesn't give into to racial stereotypes or anything like that. It shows that war is not black and white. It reminds us that Iwo Jima was a Japanese island. For them, it was protecting their country and a way of life. For better or for worse. This film is a must see for anyone who is interested in the Japanese side of the war. A criticism is that this picture does require some patience as it is abit long in places. When I rewatch it. I like it more and more.
This picture reminds us that most people who die in war are young men, with little knowledge of politics, who go forward when called and make the ultimate sacrifice. ...
General Kuribayashi: "A good officer uses his head, not his whip."
One can only assume the legitimate authenticity of the portraits in this movie, but it does a wonderful job in doing so, humanizing what is often shown as savages in common WW2 movies.
Watched this again over the Memorial Day Weekend. Only the second time I've seen it and the first in over 12 years. So glad I did - just a brilliant movie. Complex characters and issues have me still reflecting on it. Highly recommend
good movie, does a good job showing the life and culture of japanese soldiers
the acting was good, hard to judge since its in japanese
actions scenes were intense and keeps you at the edge of your seat
storyline took some unexpected turns, but looking back at it now some parts felt a bit cliche for some reason. i guess the movie hasnt aged well to me
character development felt a bit weak. all we really get is "i need to do whatever it takes to see my wife, but i also dont want to lose my humanity." the characters ideals and goals never changed from start to finish.
the pace of the movie could feel rushed at times, some scenes would have been better if they were longer, others would be better if they were just a tad shorter
overall it is a great movie for those interested in ww2, japanese history, or just want to see a war movie
The best epic movie ever made!
With his two 2006 movies, Flags of Our Fathers and Letters from Iwo Jima, Eastwood has stripped away some of the misconceptions about the battle and provided new perspectives. Taken together, the films offer an imperfect but interesting interpretation of history. Of the two, the more straightforward and better focused Letters from Iwo Jima is the stronger movie. This film depicts the battle from the perspective of the losers and it represents the United States as the "enemy." Letters from Iwo Jima remains entrenched upon the island from start to finish (except for a few character-building flashbacks). In terms of its structure, this is more what we expect from a war movie than what Flags of Our Fathers offers. The only character common to both films is the island's rough terrain.