Monday, June 09, 2008

Flags of our Fathers/Letters from Iwo Jima

These are two films that explain why I rent DVDs. I am pleased that I have experienced them, but I have no desire to watch them again.

Flags of our Fathers is the story surrounding the iconic photograph of the raising of the US flag on Mt Suribachi, Iwo Jima in the closing stages of the Second World War. It follows the lives of the three surviving flag-raisers, and how the American government employed them in helping to sell war bonds.

The film adopts a 'flashback' narrative, switching between the flag-raisers' tours of arenas and speaking engagements and detailed, horrific scenes of the invasion of Iwo Jima.

It is a good film, but not a great one. The photography is superb, shot primarily in a 'desaturate all colours except red' format. The acting is competent and involving. But it comes across more as a documentary interspersed with action scenes than a movie proper.

Letters from Iwo Jima is told from the perspective of the Japanese defenders of Iwo Jima. Also shot in 'desaturated, except for red', I found it to be an altogether more satisfying and involving film, in spite of my dislike of subtitles.

Ken Watanabe's performance as the conflicted but patriotic commander is one of the best I have ever witnessed (random thought: I found his facial expressions reminding me of Jean Reno) and his supporting cast brilliantly display the desperation of an almost defeated nation.

If you're up for 4 hours of difficult but rewarding cinema, these two films make an extremely rewarding micro-series.

1 comment:

AaB said...

These have been on my 'must see' list for too long now. Thanks for the reminder. And well done Clint Eastwood for making the effort.