Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Letters from Iwo Jima

In late 2006, I had the good fortune of being able to see both of Clint Eastwood's Iwo Jima's films he had released that year in the same night. Although Flags of Our Fathers had been released a couple months prior, it opened in the dollar theater the same night Letters from Iwo Jima made its initial run. So I attended Flags of Our Fathers and after being underwhelmed by that film as well as tired, I was not sure I could handle another film. Yet, I convinced myself to go see Letters from Iwo Jima and it turned out to be not only a great theater going experience, but also what I believe to be the best war film, and possibly one of the best movies ever committed to film. Letters follows the battle of Iwo Jima from the Japanese side, and follows it from several different kinds of soldiers to gain different perspectives. From the brilliant general who does not proscribe to the ancient Japanese methods of war, to the traditional officers, to the lowly soldier who misses his family back home, and even the ex-Olympian turned officer, Letters from Iwo Jima portrays the war in several different lights, resulting in an all encompassing portrait of battle. Ken Watanabe is wonderful as the conflicted general and Kazunari Ninomiya is affecting as the lowly baker turned soldier. Letters from Iwo Jima paints a horrible picture on a beautiful canvas, that results in Clint Eastwood's best work in a brilliant career as well as a multifaceted war picture.