Wednesday, December 20, 2006


Letters from Iwo Jima

Nothing smarts like a lost battle. Although Clint Eastwood’s Letters from Iwo Jima makes an engaging case for the relevance of individual perseverance amid warfare, it’s still a downer to watch hordes of Japanese soldiers off themselves in the face of certain defeat. The story encapsulates a month-long confrontation in early 1945 between the United States and Japan on a sulfuric landmass in the middle of the Pacific with no easy way out. Earlier this year, Eastwood’s first exploration of the events, Flags of Our Fathers, exclusively identified with American soldiers—while their enemy lurked intangibly in the shadows. Despite a few justified jabs at rampant star spangling (a single patriotic photograph distracted the folks back home from the ongoing casualties of war), Eastwood curiously chose to conclude by glorifying the survivors and washing away the trauma of casualties with facile sentimentalism.

Letters from Iwo Jima, which takes the Japanese perspective and adopts their language, avoids the temptation of an incredulous feel-good climax. It shoots a menacing scowl at Flags of Our Fathers and never lets up—like watching a showdown between Schindler’s List and Shoah.

Read the rest of the review in the New York Press...


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