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Letters from Iwo Jima (2006)

R  |   |  Drama, History, War  |  2 February 2007 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.9/10 from 127,404 users   Metascore: 89/100
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The story of the battle of Iwo Jima between the United States and Imperial Japan during World War II, as told from the perspective of the Japanese who fought it.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Lieutenant Ito (as Shidou Nakamura)
Nobumasa Sakagami ...
Sam (as Lucas Elliot)
Medic Endo (as Sonny Seiichi Saito)
Steve Santa Sekiyoshi ...


The island of Iwo Jima stands between the American military force and the home islands of Japan. Therefore the Imperial Japanese Army is desperate to prevent it from falling into American hands and providing a launching point for an invasion of Japan. General Tadamichi Kuribayashi is given command of the forces on the island and sets out to prepare for the imminent attack. General Kuribayashi, however, does not favor the rigid traditional approach recommended by his subordinates, and resentment and resistance fester among his staff. In the lower echelons, a young soldier, Saigo, a poor baker in civilian life, strives with his friends to survive the harsh regime of the Japanese army itself, all the while knowing that a fierce battle looms. When the American invasion begins, both Kuribayashi and Saigo find strength, honor, courage, and horrors beyond imagination. Written by Jim Beaver <jumblejim@prodigy.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


From the director of "Flags of our Fathers" comes the completion of the Iwo Jima saga See more »


Drama | History | War

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for graphic war violence | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

2 February 2007 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Red Sun, Black Sand  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$19,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$122,548 (USA) (22 December 2006)


$13,753,931 (USA) (20 April 2007)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| |


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


One of the only nine foreign language films ever to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture. Though shot almost entirely in Japanese, it was an American production, thus ineligible for a Best Foreign Language Film nomination. See more »


In the scene where General Kuribayashi recognizes Saigo in the tunnels, his clearly visible tunic collar insignia are that of a Chujo (Lieutenant- General), consisting on two silver five-pointed stars over a yellow strip. Instead Kuribayashy was promoted to full generalship (Japanese rank Taisho) in March 1945 before being sent to Iwo Jima, and he should wear a yellow collar strip with three silver stars. See more »


Saigo: We can die here, or we can continue fighting. Which would better serve the emperor?
See more »


Referenced in Saturday Night Live: Rainn Wilson/Arcade Fire (2007) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

The film hits in almost every aspect, except it misses in……
26 August 2011 | by (Jordan) – See all my reviews

…… the entertainment aspect.

While "Letters from Iwo Jima" is truly a great achievement is several ways, the script is powerful, the production is superb, all the technical departments almost perfected their jobs, there is some really good acting as well, and Eastwood's touch as a director is very visible, and its beautiful, it flaws almost flawlessly in this regard.

Well, what's wrong then? It simply lacks what makes it a really interesting movie. "Letters" starts with a present day scene of excavators digging up remains of the war in Iwo Jima, and finding letters in a cave that were written by Japanese soldiers and officers during the war on Iwo Jima island, it then travels back in time to WWII and story revolves around those whom their letters were found during the dawn of the American invasion on that island. Slowly, the movie loses its grip over its audience, becoming something closer to an audio book, and survival becomes a repetitive process!!!

Everyone seem to be praising the film for being told from the other side, and its true you don't see that many American film makers do that, and although the film didn't just speak Japanese, it lived and breathed Japanese, it couldn't escape the limited framework of Hollywood, this is very visible through the "good" characters, all the good, honest or lovable Japanese characters were either American sympathizers who lived in the US for a while and kept saying how a great nation the US is, or are Japanese people that do not care for the Imperial system and would not mind handing over the island to their rival Americans. On the other hand, all Japanese loyalists were mean American haters. Even the resolution of the strict Imperial soldiers was that the Americans were not as evil as they were told. But still, everyone was very fond of the fact that the movie was told completely from a Japanese point of view. However, just because Eastwood is an American film maker making a Japanese-point-of-view movie, doesn't make the film any better than what it really is, the film's ratings seem to be getting higher just because there is an American film maker behind it and I disagree, it is what it is regardless who the people behind it were.

The film was also highly praised as a companion film to "Flags", and while together they form a great duo, on its own, "Letters" does not achieve greatness.

Why did Eastwood and Spielberg decide to make "Letters from Iwo Jima" this calm instead of making an adrenaline-pumping film? My guess is that they did not care about the average audience and the commercial success as much as they did care for the story's integrity.

Majd Selbi

38 of 50 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Best War Movie? chiliwaterboy
So how much of this was actually filmed in Iwo Jima? SixteenSaltines
Unfair depiction of the Japanese... nebreen
Who's the jap. soldier found in the cave at 2:06:50? zahcary
what happened to siago? amglamuro
A different view of the battle? xxjoseph23xx
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