Letters from Iwo Jima (2006)

I don't know if I am hardened or what, but this film, though quite tense and graphic, was remarkable gentle. I think it had something to do with the dutiful characters in the film; since they were able to press on into sure death, so was I able to follow with my eyes.

I was both eager to watch Letters and dreading the viewing. I knew the outcome as do most people, so it's a pretty grim story to sit yourself down to watch. Clint Eastwood does an apt job of following a young baker through the battle defending Iwo Jima near the close of World War II. This baker/soldier carefully walks a line of being a devout Japanese empirialist and being a man of reason; willing to die for no reason and willing to avoid dying if he has the chance.

This pointed contrast is what truly marks this film as foreign. Western viewers just don't 'get' kamikaze fighters. I don't personally see honour in sacrificing yourself for your country when there are viable alternatives to you dying. What was made clear in the film was the pressure placed on the Japanese soldiers and generals by their superiors. If you failed in a mission or defence, you had one option and that was suicide (or honourable beheading that could be performed on the spot by a friend or superior).

I felt strong sympathy for the Japanese soldiers. Here they were fighting a battle for an empire that was using them as fodder knowing full well that the war would be lost within a few months. The film makes a strong statement on war and the perpetrators that go so far to get nowhere.

Official Site | IMDB

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