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Clint Eastwood film about Iwo Jima: Flags of Our Fathers

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by psyopspec, Oct 10, 2006.

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  1. psyopspec

    psyopspec Member

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    Review from Variety.

    John "Doc" Bradley - Ryan Phillippe
    Rene Gagnon - Jesse Bradford
    Ira Hayes - Adam Beach
    Keyes Beech - John Benjamin Hickey
    Bud Gerber - John Slattery
    Mike Strank - Barry Pepper
    Ralph Ignatowski - Jamie Bell
    Hank Hansen - Paul Walker
    Col. Chandler Johnson - Robert Patrick
    Capt. Severance - Neal McDonough
    Pauline Harnois - Melanie Lynskey
    James Bradley - Tom McCarthy
    Commandant Vandegrift - Chris Bauer
    Belle Block - Judith Ivey
    Madeline Evelley - Myra Turley
    Franklin Sousley - Joseph Cross
    Harlan Block - Benjamin Walker
    Lindberg - Alessandro Mastrobuono
    Lundsford - Scott Reeves
    Gust - Stark Sands
    John Bradley - George Grizzard
    Dave Severance - Harve Presnell
    Walter Gust - George Hearn
    Mr. Beech - Len Cariou
    Ed Block - Christopher Curry

    By TODD MCCARTHY

    'Flags of Our Fathers' is the first of a pair of war dramas about the battle of Iwo Jima from director Clint Eastwood.

    Clint Eastwood's 'Flags of Our Fathers' looks at the story behind the famous photo shot by Joe Rosenthal.

    Ambitiously tackling his biggest canvas to date, Clint Eastwood continues to defy and triumph over the customary expectations for a film career in "Flags of Our Fathers." A pointed exploration of heroism -- in its actual and in its trumped-up, officially useful forms -- the picture welds a powerful account of the battle of Iwo Jima, the bloodiest single engagement the United States fought in World War II, with an ironic and ultimately sad look at its aftermath for three key survivors. This domestic Paramount release looks to parlay critical acclaim and its director's ever-increasing eminence into strong B.O. returns through the autumn and probably beyond.
    Conventional wisdom suggests directors slow down as they reach a certain age (Eastwood is now 76), become more cautious, recycle old ideas, fall out of step with contemporary tastes, look a bit stodgy. Eastwood has impertinently ignored these options not only by undertaking by far his most expensive and logistically daunting picture, but by creating back-to-back bookend features offering contrasting perspectives on the same topic; the Japanese-language "Letters From Iwo Jima," showing the Japanese side in intimate terms, will be released by Warner Bros. next year.

    One way to think about "Flags" is as "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" of this generation. That 1962 John Ford Western is famous for its central maxim, "When the truth becomes legend, print the legend," and "Flags" resonantly holds the notion up to the light. It is also a film about the so-called Greatest Generation that considers why its members are, or were, reticent to speak much about what they did in the war, to boast or consider themselves heroes.

    Skillfully structured script by William Broyles Jr. and Paul Haggis throws the audience into the harrowing action of the Iwo Jima invasion as a personal memory that can never be softened or forgotten. But the brutal fighting is eventually juxtaposed with the government's use of the celebrated image of the Marines raising the flag on Mount Suribachi for propaganda and fund-raising, with scant ultimate regard for the "heroes."

    Reflecting its origins in the bestselling 2000 book by James Bradley (son of one of the central figures) with Ron Powers, tale is framed around a son's search into the wartime exploits of his father John Bradley, one of the six men pictured raising the flag. The I.D.ing and matching of some old-timers to their younger selves is never the easiest thing to do, and the same goes for getting all the names immediately straight for a bunch of young soldiers wearing identical uniforms and very short hair.

    But the camera focuses on a handful of the 30,000 troops that landed on the inhospitable spec of volcanic ash and tufa that is Iwo Jima on Feb. 19, 1945, to dislodge some 20,000 well-fortified Japanese.

    Among the men are John "Doc" Bradley (Ryan Phillippe), the only Navy man in a group that otherwise includes Marines: Rene Gagnon (Jesse Bradford), Native American Ira Hayes (Adam Beach), the highly capable leader Sgt. Mike Strank (Barry Pepper), Hank Hansen (Paul Walker), Ralph "Iggy" Ignatowski (Jamie Bell), Harlan Block (Benjamin Walker) and Franklin Sousley (Joseph Cross).

    Such is the carnage at the initial landing (the Americans suffered 2,000 casualties that first day alone) that there will be some temptation to compare the scene to current co-producer Steven Spielberg's justly celebrated D-Day invasion sequence in "Saving Private Ryan." But Eastwood does it his own way, impressively providing coherence and chaos, awesome panoramic shots revealing the enormity of the arrayed armada and sudden spasms of violence that with great simplicity point up the utter arbitrariness of suffering and death in combat.

    The visual scheme Eastwood developed for the picture is immediately arresting. Perhaps taking a cue from the island's black sand, as well as from WWII's status as the last war shot, from a filmic p.o.v., in black-and-white, pic is nearly as monochromatic as anything shot in color can be. Dominated by blacks, grays and olive greens, cinematographer Tom Stern's images have a grave elegance, a drained quality that places the events cleanly in history without diminishing their startling immediacy.

    On the fifth day of fighting, some Americans reach the summit where a great deal of the Japanese firepower is concentrated, and six soldiers plant a small stars-and-stripes. Shortly after, a larger flag is sent up and, in an event only shown in the film considerably later, six different men, Bradley, Gagnon and Hayes among them, responding to a photographer's half-joking question of, "O.K., guys, who wants to be famous?," put their muscle behind pushing up the new flag held in place by a heavy length of pipe.

    At once, AP photographer Joe Rosenthal's shot became arguably the most iconic image of the American war. No faces were identifiable in the photo, leading to some confusion as to who was even in the shot, and three of them were killed soon after.

    But the surviving three are spirited back to the mainland to spearhead a final war bonds drive. Bradley, Gagnon and Hayes are treated like gold-plated heroes everywhere, all the while being confronted by replicas of the flag raising made of papier-mache or even ice cream.

    Of the three, Gagnon embraces his sudden celebrity, gallivanting around with his fiancee and expecting great things to stem from it. Already haunted by the horrors he witnessed, Bradley copes in a subdued way. But Hayes, whose story was dramatized onscreen in 1961 as "The Outsider" with Tony Curtis, of all people, portraying the Pima Indian, can barely hold it together.

    Feeling from the outset that their participation in the tour is a "farce," that the real heroes are the guys who died or are still out there fighting, Hayes drinks heavily, embarrassing himself while having to stomach the everyday casual racism of being called "chief" or being refused service.

    And once they've done their bit raising billions for the government, they're left on their own to put their lives back together. It's not an easy road, particularly for Hayes, who in one moving, genuinely Fordian moment, treks a long distance for a brief visit with the father of one of his fallen comrades.

    Given this dramatic, wrenching arc, Hayes' story becomes the heart of the movie, and Beach, who previously played a Native American in the Pacific campaign in "Windtalkers," unquestionably takes the acting honors with it, delivering a full sense of the character's pain and sense of entrapment in an absurd situation. Other perfs are thoughtful, credible and deliberately unspectacular, although Pepper supplies special power as the leader the young men need as they come face to face with the enemy.

    The director and editor Joel Cox find an effective and comfortable rhythm for the drama's parallel tracks. Spectacle is by no means limited to the battle scenes; one major setpiece is an enormous rally at Chicago's Soldiers Field where the men are expected to scale a large model of Mount Suribachi and plant the flag. Perhaps the most felicitous of the film's many outstanding visual effects is the elimination of the recently built flying saucer-like addition to the venerable stadium.

    The film's themes are so thoroughly embodied in the drama as it's told that there is no need for explicit statement of them, which makes the final bit of narration about the nation's need for heroes seem unnecessary. Another minor flaw is a Hollywood backlot look to a couple of Chicago street scenes.

    Otherwise, "Flags of Our Fathers" is exemplary in its physical aspects. Combination of exteriors shot on the black beaches of Iceland with CGI work conveys a vivid and comprehensive feel of the godawfulness of Iwo Jima.

    This and the forthcoming "Letters" represent the final work of the late, great production designer Henry Bumstead; no one could wish to go out on a better note. Pic is dedicated to him and two others who died during production, Eastwood's longtime casting director Phyllis Huffman and flag-raising photographer Rosenthal.

    The director himself composed the spare, effective musical score.

    Camera (Technicolor, Panavision widescreen), Tom Stern; editor, Joel Cox; music, Eastwood; production designer, Henry Bumstead; art directors, Jack G. Taylor Jr., Adrian Gorton (Iceland); set designers, Joseph G. Pacelli, Gorton, Gary A. Lee; costume designer, Deborah Hopper; sound (Dolby Digital/DTS/SDDS), Walt Martin; supervising sound editor, Alan Robert Murray; co-supervising sound editor, Bub Asman; re-recording mixers, John Reitz, Dave Campbell, Gregg Rudloff, Steve Pederson; visual effects supervisor, Michael Owens; visual effects and digital animation, Digital Domain; military technical adviser, Sgt. Maj. James D. Dever; stunt coordinator, Buddy Van Horn; assistant director, Donald Murphy; second unit camera, Richard Bowen; casting, Phyllis Huffman. Reviewed at Warner Bros. studios, Burbank, Sept. 22, 2006. MPAA Rating: R. Running time: 131 MIN.

    _______________________________________________

    I'm looking forward to this if the action is anything in the vein of Saving Private Ryan or Black Hawk Down. It'll be interesting to see what Eastwood's final product of the aftermath for these gentlemen was like as well.
     
  2. Onmilo

    Onmilo Member

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    I look forward to this film.
    As any soldier knows,,,,"It's a helluva way to make a living!"
     
  3. nswtex

    nswtex Member

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    I'll let you know ;)
    Please read the book before seeing this film. It is written by the son of one of the men in the famous photograph. Excellent read once I started I couldnt stop until I hit the back cover.
     
  4. The_Shootist

    The_Shootist Member

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    Grin

    Kinda nice to see Pepper (Saving Private Ryan) and McDonough (Band of Brothers) in this movie. Hope they aren't getting typecast, :D
     
  5. Davo

    Davo Member

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    It was a great book, and I look forward to the movie. There really arent any modern movies about the Marines in the pacific in WWII. Id also like to see a modern movie dealing with Korea,and the Mexican-American war.
     
  6. Valkman

    Valkman Member

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    Can't wait to see it. When I saw the ad I thought of my friend's Dad who was there. I asked him about Iwo Jima one night, and over 50 years later he still cried like a baby remebering the friends he lost there. He's died since and I truly hope the movie does right by these heroes.
     
  7. psyopspec

    psyopspec Member

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    I went to The Departed last night and there was a trailer for Flags. I couldn't make up my mind about whether I'll like it, but after seeing the preview, I know I've got to see this movie in the theater. The actor chosen for Ira Hayes seems particularly good, as does Eastwood's score for the movie.
     
  8. Tom C.

    Tom C. Member

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    I have seen interviews with the book's author. I look forward to the film.

    I saw Flyboys this past weekend. It is about the action of WWI. Good flying sequences and good computer graphics.
     
  9. MM

    MM Member

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    John Bradley, the 2nd class HM in the book, lost his best friend, IGGY Ignatowski, in a most horrific way. His later treatment of a Japanese friend of his son, the author of the book, shows him to be a much better man than I.
    SatCong
     
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2006
  10. Phil DeGraves

    Phil DeGraves Member

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    Yes, FLYBOYS was pretty good even though it was not historically accurate at all (which is maddening, since the true story of the Lafayette Escadrille is truly dramatic, exciting and moving.) Saw the preview for FLAGS there; it looks pretty good.
     
  11. MechAg94

    MechAg94 Member

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    I'd like to see "With the Old Breed" made into a movie, but I would be concerned someone would screw it up.
     
  12. Dannyboy

    Dannyboy Member

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    I know this is getting a bit ahead of myself but has anyone heard about the second movie?
     
  13. Tommygunn

    Tommygunn Member

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    I think it is "Letters from Iwo Jima" or something like that and is an account based on the Japanese account of the battle.
     
  14. lysander

    lysander Member

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    My understanding is that the second film is told from the perspective of the Japanese general in charge of defending the island. The general is being played by Ken Watanabe (the same actor who played the Samurai in the Last Samurai).

    I am curious if the film (Flags of Our Father's) is going to address the controversy over whether or not the photo was authentic.

    I like Eastwood's films quite a bit and I am looking forward to this one. Great cast, great director, epic subject matter...it should be good.
     
  15. Davo

    Davo Member

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    Thats a great idea for the second film! I love stories that show both sides, and Ken Wantanabe is an excellent actor.
     
  16. ambulldog

    ambulldog Member

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    I cannot wait to see this movie. Its been a while since I've seen a good WWII movie. If I had to pick a favorite film genre it would be WWII movies. My favorite movie when I was a kid was The Big Red One. I want to see Fly Boys but I'm not dying to see it. To me it seems more focused on action and graphics. I need a good story, dialogue and hopefully historical accuracy.
     
  17. bowfin

    bowfin Member

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    +1on reading the book first.

    If you only read one book in your life on the Second World War, this would be my choice for you. This recommendation picked out of literally hundreds of books on the war that I have read.
     
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2006
  18. Cromlech

    Cromlech Member

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  19. SoCalShooter

    SoCalShooter Member

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    That's for me to know and not you!
    Should be a great movie. Heard a rumor he was doing the American side and then the Japanese side.
     
  20. Cromlech

    Cromlech Member

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  21. SoCalShooter

    SoCalShooter Member

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    That's for me to know and not you!
    Thanks man, I really liked the fact he was doing it from both sides.
     
  22. Cromlech

    Cromlech Member

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    Indeed, my Limey arse shall be firmly perched on a seat at the movies when they are shown.

    Unfortunately, we don't get FooF until December 22nd.
     
  23. No_Brakes23

    No_Brakes23 Member

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    Could you elaborate? I know that the original was reshot later that day.
     
  24. SoCalShooter

    SoCalShooter Member

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    That's for me to know and not you!
    My understanding about the photo is this, they took it the first time and it did not come out well so they set back up and took it again and the second was the best.
     
  25. Grampa

    Grampa Member

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    Yes, read the book.

    I doubt it will come out too much in the movie, but the story of the naval bombardment (or lack thereof) is infuriating. So many American lives lost due to criminally incompetent Navy brass. Just read it.

    The battleship as a weapon platform took an undeserved black eye, too.
     
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