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Average review score based on 64 user reviews
of customers recommend this product
The invasion of Iwo Jima from a Japanese prospective is the plot of
this movie. Ken Watanabe (Memoirs of a Geisha, Batman Begins, etc)
stars as a Japanese general who knows his men are outnumbered and with
no hope of rescue or reinforcement, that most of them will eventually
die in the battle for the island-or kill themselves rather than offer
to surrender. Watanabe changes the tactics of defending the beach of
Iwo Jima to digging his troops into fixed positions in or under hills
and in tunnels. His hope is that his men will at least inflict more
casualties on the invading American Marines during the battle. Shido
Nakamura (Jet Li's Fearless, Neighbor Number 13, etc) plays one of the
Japanese soldiers who writes home prior to the battle to his wife
expressing his misgivings about the war. As the invasion begins and
the Marines advance inland-both Watanabe and Nakamura both see the
hopeless nature of the battle and they end up together through a series
of events fighting to the end. The movie is directed by Clint Eastwood
who does excellent work here to go along with his recent efforts (Gran
Torino, Changeling, Blood Work, Unforgiven, etc). Students of World
War II or history will greatly enjoy this movie as will people that enjoy
war movies or military stratigy type movies-as Watanabe does an excellent
job of explaining his motives for the defense of the island. A very good
movie that many people will find a very good evenings entertainment in.
Iwo Jima was the only place the Japanese had controlled before the War that the Americans had not yet seized. What should have been a one or two-day cakewalk turned into a forty-day ordeal.
General Kuribayashi(Ken Watanabe), conceives the defense of the island against the traditional strategy employed up to that point. He orders his men to dig a series of tunnels into the depths of Mt. Suribachi. It is a doomed defense, as the Japanese forces are far inferior both in number and weaponry, but Kuribayashi tells his men that it is worth it to die defending the island if it means one more day of freedom for their loved ones back home. After Director Clint Eastwood completed filming Flags of Our Fathers, he decided to create the companion film telling the story from the Japanese side of the war.
This film was superbly done and I agree that it was much better than 'Flags of Our Fathers.' It flowed much better and you actually get to know some of the characters. It's definitely a just tribute to those Japanese soldiers who defended that doomed island and did their duty just like our boys did theirs. Sure there's the significant cultural differences, and you can argue that they started the war, but once those bullets start flying, we all feel the same fear and bleed the same blood. Foot soldiers don't start wars, and only the hardest of hearts could watch this and not feel sympathy for these young men. Another reviewer called this an "anti-bushido" movie and I think there is some truth to that. One of the recurring themes seems to be the contrast between the common soldier who just wants to survive, and the hardcore bushido officers who believe in nothing less than death before dishonor. Personally, there's a part of me that sympathizes with the whole honor-driven samurai tradition, but I can see how many regard it as primitive and senseless. The cave scene with the grenades comes to mind. I also have to say that the score is one of the most touching I've heard in awhile also. The main theme is one of those pieces that tears at your heart. All in all, this will go down as one of Clint Eastwood's finest achievements.
Companion story to Clint Eastwood's "Flags of Our Fathers." Poignant story pieced together from the many letters found in the caves on Iwo Jima & from the few remaining Japanese survivors, that tells of the breakdown of Japanese command of General Tadamichi Kuribayashi in the last hours before falling to the US forces; of the conflict of an "honorable death" in the face of total failure versus the command and control of military tactics to survive the enemy onslaught. Great acting & special effects.
Japanese cinema in 50s produced a number of films that portrayed grim reality of war, while American war films of the same period about world war 2 tend to just provide the importance of fighting and surviving a war, which was believed worthwhile, overlooking the reality of combat or soldiers’ life in the front line. “The Letter from Iwo Jima,” however, is a film depicting Japanese point of view, which is not often portrayed in non-Japanese productions. What remarkable about this movie is this is an American production with almost entirely Japanese language, and in my opinion, they did a superb job recreating the atmosphere and sentiment among Japanese during the month long battle. The battle itself turned out to be gyokusai sen to the Japanese soldiers, which means the whole point of this battle is to delay American invasion of Japanese main land and die doing so. It is not easy to understand the mentality today, but it also provides the interesting ultimate human conflict in the extreme situations. In this film, there’s no simple good and evil, just dead, dying, and survivors. A WW2 historians will argue about few inaccuracies in this film, but those who have not seen a movies like this, particularly ones that depict Japanese point of view, will be fascinated by how differently war was fought on the other side. It is a movie for intellectuals who consistently try to deepen the understanding of complex nature of human beings from 64 yeas ago.