Monday, November 26, 2007

"Flags of Our Fathers" and "Letters From Iwo Jima"

I rented these movies to watch with my kids over the Thanksgiving break. I like to watch films like these with them in an attempt to give them a sense of how much it costs to keep the freedom we have in the US and to show them examples of people who live and/or die for a cause bigger than themselves. These two movies, telling two sides of the Battle of Iwo Jima, portrayed those things in very distinct yet united ways.

"Flags of Our Fathers" portrayed the story of a group of Marines and a Navy Corpsman who landed on Iwo Jima and fought their way to the top of Mount Suribachi and planted the US Flag. Three of the men who raised the flag as shown in the historic photo and survived the weeks-long battle, were taken back to the US to help sell war bonds to a war-weary public. One man, in particular, was a very reluctant hero. He preferred to remember the men who died as the real heroes rather than be celebrated as one of the heroes of the battle. The story was well done and excellently portrayed.

"Letters From Iwo Jima" portrayed the battle from the Japanese point of view. It followed one very reluctant soldier who managed to survive bombings, artillery attacks, suicide missions and moving from Mount Surabichi to the northern part of the island. As he moves from place to place, meeting generals and colonels along the way, we see how some of the leaders knew the battle was futile and that they would certainly lose. However, they kept this knowledge from the lower-ranking officers and soldiers and encouraged them to fight to the end because they knew the longer they fought on Iwo Jima, the longer it would delay the inevitable attack on the Japanese home island by US Forces.

I hesitate to describe any more of the movie in deference to those who haven't seen them. Although panned by some critics, I highly recommend them and also recommend watching them together. They are excellent companions to each other.

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