Letters From Iwo Jima Clint Eastwood

Letters From Iwo Jima Clint Eastwood
The two-disc DVD for Letters From Iwo Jima is missing one crucial supplementary feature: the first half of director Clint Eastwood’s Iwo Jima diptych Flags of Our Fathers. It may be unfair to dismiss Flags, which can stand as a satisfactory feature on its own, as a mere appendage to the majestic intimacy of Letters, however, much of the power inherent in the celebrated Japanese perspective of Letters is based on prior knowledge of not only the American campaign in Iwo Jima during WWII but the correlations Eastwood deftly draws up in the companion piece. We can only admire the diligent tunnelling of the Japanese soldiers on the volcanic black sands of Iwo Jima after having seen how successfully those enclaves were exploited in keeping the Americans at bay. The trauma experienced by the homeward-bound American soldiers after the 40-day battle eventually pales in comparison to the dutiful hopes of the Japanese, who while drastically outnumbered and struggling with dysentery had no home to look forward to and were instead negotiating the most honourable way to die. And then there’s the Japanese outlook on that iconic flag raising, which boosted American morale and caused all the commotion in the earlier film, yet is much more poignant in the disregard Letters has for it, shafting its miniscule image to the corner in light of greater concerns. Letters from Iwo Jima is as sombre and disciplined as the Japanese soldiers it chooses to esteem, unlike the self-conscious and melodramatic early chapter, and Eastwood’s masterful stroke in the film is his very effacement of everything Flags stood for. The subjects interviewed in the "making of” doc praise Eastwood endlessly for directing a film in a foreign language and bravely seeing his own people as the enemy in it. Such comments are merely echoed at the film’s world premiere in Tokyo and the subsequent press conference. This is all but half the complement, and for the other half viewers would need to take a look at the DVD for Flags of Our Fathers. (Warner)