“Flags Of Our Fathers,”

The last time Clint Eastwood and I rendezvoused at the cinema, I was viewing “Million Dollar Baby”. Personally, I thought that film was masterfully directed and acted. This time around he’s dealing with more strong subject matter, in “Flags of our Fathers”. The film deals specifically with the brave men who fought on the island of Iwo Jima, an island absolutely vital in defeating the Japanese.

It’s one thing to make a film about war; it’s another to make a film about the soldiers that fight in that war. That is what Eastwood does here, and it plays to his advantage. He shoots in a raw, gritty fashion that perfectly captures the guerilla tactics of the Japanese. This is all complimented by tremendously real performances.

The film begins with the audience getting acquainted with the men: a rag-tag group from all over the country. It may seem like the characters are not connected in any way…but all of these men have one thing in common. They are the flag raisers as seen in this famous photograph taken at that battle...

Of course none of them knew they would be famous. None of them knew they would be labeled heroes. Matter of fact, none of them wanted to be. The three soldiers who survived the battle were escorted back to the states and given lavished welcome parties. In the minds of the people, that picture represented victory, and the people in it, were the best of our troops.

In reality, they didn’t want the publicity. They were simply commissioned to raise 14 billion in bonds to support the cause their comrades had died for. So as they return home and are trotted around for publicity, we are treated to shots flashbacks of the horrific battle they were apart of.

This is truly a great cinematic achievement. However, it succumbs to the mistake of most war films in that it is long. Personally, I’ve never been a fan of really long movies. I understand it’s hard to make a concise war film…but sheesh. But fortunately the time issue is the only real problem I could find here. On every level this is a great film that definitely pays the homage deserved to our veterans.

I would highly recommend it, even though I am rooting for another film (“Little Miss Sunshine”) for the Oscars. This might even be the greatest WWII flick since “Saving Private Ryan”. It’s certainly won it’s place as one of my favorites.

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