CinemaDave (cinemadave) wrote,

Must see film for Veteran's Day : "Flags of our Fathers"

“In War, you need a picture and few words to describe it.”
A Narrator
“Flags of Our Fathers.”

It is sad too see that after three weeks,
"Flags of Our Fathers" had earned only two thirds of
the box office gross compared to the opening weekend
of "Saw III." It is disturbing that some people pay
to witness the S & M violence of a low budget horror
movie, but can not face the realistic violence that
some of our neighbors endured during World War II,
Korea, Vietnam and the Middle East wars. Let's hope
that the theater managers do not wimp out and drop
"Flags of Our Fathers" before this Veteran's Day
weekend, it is one of the most timely movies of the

The centerpiece of "Flags of Our Fathers" features
the flag raising during the battle of Iwo Jima, circa
1945. It is a fierce battle between the United States
Military and a Japanese enemy who believes in death
before surrender. As a matter of perspective to
today's three and one half year long war in Iraq,
whose death toll is under three thousand, the United
States military suffered over twice as many deaths in
this battle to secure a small island in thirty five

The one flaw with "Flags of Our Fathers" is with the
opening of the movie. The film introduces too many
characters and the story is not told in chronological
order. The changing narrators also increases this
sense of confusion. However, don't give up on
"Flags of Our Fathers," too early, once the
narrative structure settles down, the payoff is worth

The movie focuses on the three men who were involved
in the memorable flag raising photograph at Iwo Jima,
John “Doc” Bradley (Ryan Phillippe), Rene Gargon
(Jesse Bradford) and Ira Hayes (Adam Beach). Actually
there were two flag raisings at Iwo Jima, the first
one inspired the troops that victory was near and the
second flag raising became a photo opportunity. Thus,
Bradley, Gargon and Hayes are given much credit as
“war heroes” for doing something routine.

The “war heroes” are recruited by military publicists
to sell war bonds. The three soldiers take part in
hokey recreations of the flag raising of Iwo Jima and
attend swanky upper class events. As they young men
accept their role as good Americans, post traumatic
stress syndrome and survivor's guilt begin to haunt
these war survivors.

The horrors of war live within a man's conscience.
Clint Eastwood's masterful direction makes the epic
battle of Iwo Jima an individual conflict. We see
“Doc” Bradley perform euthanasia upon the injured
soldier who thinks they are receiving medical
assistance. There are horrible scenes in which one
sees the exposed blood and guts among the wounded
crawling across the gritty volcanic sand. Yet, one of
the most memorable scenes involves the horror revealed
upon Ryan Phillippe's face when he sees the cruel
fate of one of his war buddies. The horror that is
not seen by the audience is the most nightmarish.

Clint Eastwood is one of the last film makers who
lived during the World War II era. Today's film
makers seem to have memories that go beyond the
Kennedy Administration. Films like "Flags of Our
Fathers" is on the verge of extinction and deserves
to be seen on the big screen at a theater near you,
perhaps this Veteran's Day Weekend...?
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