Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Movie Review: Flags of Our Fathers

Flags of Our Fathers

In Brief: What's Good

  • Some of the visuals are excellent, especially the brief naval scenes. Any shot that includes a view of the Pacific Fleet is breathtaking.

  • Somewhat informative about the invasion of Iwo Jima and the hype and controversy surrounding the raising of the flag.

In Brief: What's Not So Good

  • The movie's pace tends to be slow and gets worse closer & closer to the end.

C+ Story
B Acting
B Directing
A Visuals

Clint Eastwood directs this epic war movie that is a little more about the people back home than the people in the field. The movie tells the story of the World War II battle for Iwo Jima and the inspiring photograph of six soldiers raising the American flag on the island's highest peak.

After the island is taken, the story centers around three of the six men who raised the Iwo Jima flag. One is a Native American and an emotionally scarred alcoholic who feels guilty for gaining fame for the flag raising despite having had little impact in the battle. One is a young soldier who respects his role as an American hero without it quite going to his head. And the other is a naval corps doctor who may be the most heroic of the three for all he did to help heal and save the lives of dying soldiers. The story is told from the point of view of the doctor's grown son who is writing a book about his father's experiences and from the point of view of the veterans the author is interviewing.

Much of the story takes place back home. The American economy is hurting, and the government is having to sell war bonds to raise money for the military. The photo of the flag raising at Iwo Jima is helping to inspire the American public, and the military decides to take the three soldiers on tour where their appearance helps with the fund raising.

I have mixed feelings about the visulas in the movie. The scenes of the battle at Iwo Jima are very muted, with almost everything except muzzle fire and explosions appearing as shades of grey and green. It's not a subtle choice and makes the scenes appear a bit overprocessed.

On the other hand, I was blown away every single time the U.S. naval fleet appeared on screen. I don't know if there were really that many ships at Iwo Jima. I wouldn't have thought there were that many in the whole U.S. navy. But, seeing the dozens, if not hundreds, of ships from the perspective of Iwo Jima's mountain peak, is breathtaking. The battle scenes were also well choreographed but also very chaotic. I would have been interested in the strategy behind the assault, but the American invasion force was ambushed so badly, I'm not sure strategy was well maintained.

Overall, Flags of Our Fathers is a somewhat interesting story, even educational. Where the story falls a bit short is in the very slow pace that gets worse toward the end. Several times when you think the movie is about to end, it just keeps going. You might say that the movie doesn't really end, it just dwindles away.

Oscar Awards

  • Nomination - Best Sound Editing

  • Nomination - Best Sound Mixing

Fun Fact from Wikipedia & IMDb

The Japanese government would not allow filming of battle scenes on the actual island of Iwo Jima, so those scenes were shot in a part of Iceland that has black sand similar to that of Iwo Jima.

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