Tuesday, October 10, 2006

MOVIE: "Flags of our Fathers"

Variety has a review of the Clint Eastwood directed movie "Flags of our Fathers" about the men who put up Old Glory on Iwo Jima in World War II. Click on the title above for a link to the complete review. Some of the highlights of the review are as follows:

"One way to think about "Flags" is as "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" of this generation. That 1962 John Ford Western is famous for its central maxim, "When the truth becomes legend, print the legend," and "Flags" resonantly holds the notion up to the light. It is also a film about the so-called Greatest Generation that considers why its members are, or were, reticent to speak much about what they did in the war, to boast or consider themselves heroes...
But the camera focuses on a handful of the 30,000 troops that landed on the inhospitable spec of volcanic ash and tufa that is Iwo Jima on Feb. 19, 1945, to dislodge some 20,000 well-fortified Japanese....Such is the carnage at the initial landing (the Americans suffered 2,000 casualties that first day alone).....
On the fifth day of fighting, some Americans reach the summit where a great deal of the Japanese firepower is concentrated, and six soldiers plant a small stars-and-stripes. Shortly after, a larger flag is sent up and, in an event only shown in the film considerably later, six different men, Bradley, Gagnon and Hayes among them, responding to a photographer's half-joking question of, "O.K., guys, who wants to be famous?," put their muscle behind pushing up the new flag held in place by a heavy length of pipe.

At once, AP photographer Joe Rosenthal's shot became arguably the most iconic image of the American war. No faces were identifiable in the photo, leading to some confusion as to who was even in the shot, and three of them were killed soon after..
But the surviving three are spirited back to the mainland to spearhead a final war bonds drive. Bradley, Gagnon and Hayes are treated like gold-plated heroes everywhere, all the while being confronted by replicas of the flag raising made of papier-mache or even ice cream....And once they've done their bit raising billions for the government, they're left on their own to put their lives back together. It's not an easy road, particularly for Hayes, who in one moving, genuinely Fordian moment, treks a long distance for a brief visit with the father of one of his fallen comrades...."