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Flags Of Our Fathers

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Flags Of Our Fathers

Unread postby swerb » Sat Feb 17, 2007 10:20 am

It's scary how similar my taste in movies is to Mitch's. I read his reviews when they post. Then again after I see the film. In the vast majority of cases we see eye to eye.

I was really fired up to see Flags of our Fathers. Spielberg's previous war epics, Saving Private Ryan and the HBO miniseries Band of Brothers, were two of the finest productions ever created for the screen IMO. Plus, other than seeing the monument a couple times as a kid, I knew little of what the story behind Iwo Jima was. Lastly, I've been a big fan of anything Clint Eastwood's been associated with over the last decade.

On the movie itself, Mitch was spot on when he said that this was ny no means a bad movie. And I really enjoyed learning all that was behind the battle of Iwo Jima, and that very popular photograph and monument. But it was a bit disappointing due to the fact that Spielberg and Eastwood were involed, as was Paul Gaddis. Anything short of it being one of the 10-15 best movies of the last decade was going to disappoint me here, and it didn't live up to that.

As to why, Mitch says it much better than I can ...

http://www.swerbsblurbs.com/article_detail.php?id=938

Something that does work extremely well in this movie are the fantastic battle scenes. After being spoiled from what was seen in “Saving Private Ryan” and “Band of Brothers”, I was expecting this to be something special, and it certainly was. Magnificent cinematography of the massive shelling from hundreds of warships hitting the bunkers of Mt. Suribachi, where the Japanese forces and weapons were concentrated, and then later of the horrendous thirty seven day battle itself. Eastwood did a tremendous job of providing points of view of both the fighting men on the ground, and bird’s eye views from the mountain top, or from inbound fighter planes. Like the aforementioned Spielberg efforts, the scenes are intense, visceral, and horrifically violent; a realistic rendition of a battle where 60,000 Marines went against 22,000 entrenched Japanese troops vowing to not surrender. The fanaticism of the Japanese was demonstrated in the fact that only a little over 1,000 survived; many dying in hopeless bansai attacks on the Americans or by committing suicide when surrounded. Seven thousand Americans also lost their lives in securing the island and its valuable air strips that were needed as a base for attacks upon Japan itself.

In a somewhat confusing decision, Eastwood has chosen to continually time shift the scenes of the battles with scenes of the war bond tour of the three survivors, disrupting a great deal of the continuity of the film. I was totally entranced whenever the action was centered about the island, but started to grow frustrated the ninth or tenth time he cuts away to show the survivors once again putting on the same pained faces as they went to another rally. Now I can see the reasoning for wanting to do some shifting; as there is only so much intensity viewers can take without catching their breath. And in utilizing these breaks, Eastwood did well to show the progression of the men’s reluctance; starting with hesitation, then surprised appreciation when given a standing ovation in Yankee Stadium, to their general fatigue with it all. But the movie would have been much better served with three or four fewer scenes showing Hayes drunk and not wanting to go up on stage.

I probably would have preferred a movie that centered much more upon the battle itself, showing more of the planning and execution of the effort, rather than having the disjointed focusing on one group of men. This type of single-battle viewpoint worked very well in Mel Gibson’s under-appreciated Vietnam War film “We Were Soldiers”. However, that was not the point of the book, so I cannot truly fault anyone in that regard. James Bradley wrote the book for us to look at his father and the other men involved and see them not as mythic demigods, but good men who fought and died for each other first and foremost. Yes, they were doing it for their country, but when the bullets started flying, they were not thinking of the high level goals, but instead were able to perform incredible feats of bravery for the man next to them, in front of them, or behind them.

And despite my complaints about the details, the movie very much succeeds in shining a spotlight on this courageous generation who exhibited loyalty, bravery, and sacrifice in a manner that seems to be almost beyond the comprehension of those of us who came after them.
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Unread postby Guest » Sat Feb 17, 2007 10:54 am

You will very much enjoy Letters From Iwo Jima when you get a chance to see it...for the reasons I spell out more in the review you're posting next week.
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Unread postby swerb » Sat Feb 17, 2007 11:02 am

I know. The Flags of our Fathers DVD has about a 5-6 min preview from Letters From Iwo Jima at the beginning of it, and it looked excellent.
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Unread postby swerb » Mon Feb 19, 2007 9:43 pm

Mitch, great review of "Letters From Iwo Jima". Cannot wait to see this one.

Have Babel and Little Miss Sunshine en route, should be here tomorrow (Green Street Houligans too) ... hoping to see both before the Oscars Sat night.
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Unread postby leadpipe » Mon Feb 19, 2007 11:18 pm

Really have little interest in seeing this after viewing "Flags" Maybe it's because the books are just so good. If you haven't read "Flags" and "Flyboys" you are doing yourself a great disservice. Hollywood tends to ruin just about everything, at least as far as non-fiction goes.
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