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.
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 Marines 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
Actor Jesse Bradford on working with director Eastwood, "I heard rumors that he really does two takes, but I had a friend who was going into a Clint Eastwood movie, I wouldn't say he does two takes - I would say he does one. The average is probably two, but the number of times we only did one was overwhelming. It's kind of cool because, as an actor, it forces you to be on your game. With this movie, I learned really quickly to be very clear on what I thought were the most important aspects of the scene and how I wanted those aspects to come off, and then practice how I was going to make sure they did, because if I only got one shot, I didn't want to be the guy who was always asking for another take. I didn't want to waste my bullets in that department." See more »
When Ira Hayes goes to visit Ed Block (Harlon Block's father) at his farm near Weslaco, Texas you see mountains in the background. The Block farm was in the lower Rio Grande Valley of deep South Texas, which is quite flat. (Despite its name, it isn't a valley at all but the delta of the Rio Grande). The nearest mountains are in northern Mexico, over 100 miles to the south. 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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