Nelson Mandela, in his first term as the South African President, initiates a unique venture to unite the apartheid-torn land: enlist the national rugby team on a mission to win the 1995 Rugby World Cup.
Jewish brothers in Nazi-occupied Eastern Europe escape into the Belarussian forests, where they join Russian resistance fighters and endeavor to build a village in order to protect themselves and about 1,000 Jewish non-combatants.
In 1945, the Marines attack twelve thousand Japaneses protecting the twenty square kilometers of the sacred Iwo Jima island in a very violent battle. When they reach the Mount Suribachi and six soldiers raise their flag on the top, the picture becomes a symbol in a post Great Depression America. The government brings the three survivors to America to raise funds for war, bringing hope to desolate people, and making the three men heroes of the war. However, the traumatized trio has difficulty dealing with the image built by their superiors, sharing the heroism with their mates. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
At the Cannes Film Festival, filmmaker Spike Lee criticized director Clint Eastwood for not displaying African-American marines who had fought on Iwo Jima. Eastwood's response was that the movie was about the marines who raised the flag on Mount Suribachi. He went on to explain that although African-Americans did fight on Iwo Jima, the Marine Corps was segregated during WWII, and none of the men who raised the flag were black. Eastwood finally told Lee to "shut his face". Through the media, Lee responded that Eastwood was being an angry old man. Lee was filming Miracle at St. Anna (2008) at the time, a film about four black soldiers fighting WWII in Italy. See more »
During the flag-raising, Mike Strank is shown wearing a soft cap. In the real-life film clip of the flag-raising, shot by Sergeant Bill Genaust, all six of the flag raisers are wearing helmets. In one or two frames at the very beginning of the real-life clip, light, shadow and the camouflage pattern make Strank's helmet look like it might be a soft cap, but he is clearly wearing a helmet in the remaining frames where his head is visible. See more »
Corpsman! Corpsman! Corpsman! Corpsman! For God sakes, corpsman! Corpsman! Corpsman!
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There is an additional short sequence after the credits have ended. See more »
I've always felt that when you fictionalize a story about war, you dishonor the memory of so many people who have a compelling story to tell by choosing to make something up instead *cough*privateryan*cough*.
The problem with war movies about real people is that you have to deal with complexities of character and plot that the genre simply doesn't lend itself easily to.
So when the story at hand aims to pose questions like "what does it mean to do the wrong things for the right reasons" and tries to debunk the popular myth of herodom, there's very little margin for error.
Enter Clint Eastwood. Never one to shy away from challenging stories, this is a much bigger effort than his usual understated character dramas. On the one hand, it doesn't "feel" like a Clint Eastwood movie, but on the other, it feels at home in his themes of used-up heroes -- the person behind the larger than life persona. These are complex characters in very difficult situations, and he presents them in a way that's straightforward and non-judgmental, so we're left to decide the answers to the film's central conflicts ourselves.
To a person, the cast is up to the challenge. It's hard not to admire Ryan Phillippe for a restrained and thoughtful performance, but the real kudos go to Adam Beach. Almost every aspect of Beach's character is cliché, with one minor exception - that's really the way Ira Hayes was. So the challenge was to portray Hayes as a real person despite the cliché, and the result is one of the most heartbreaking and troubling performances in the film. Here's a guy who is portrayed as a hero, who really has no answers at all.
There's a lot not to like about the film. It's not "entertaining" per se, in the same way that any war memorial in DC is not entertaining. Nor is it a particularly approachable film. What it lacks in popcorn-munching entertainment value, it replaces with gravitas. This is an important film, about an important time. It's status as a valuable history lesson is secondary to it's reflections on human nature and our society. As such, it deserves to be seen, and contemplated, and appreciated.
I can't wait for Letters From Iwo Jima (the companion piece, also from Clint Eastwood, told from the Japanese point of view.) Taken together, the scope of this project is breathtaking.
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