Nelson Mandela, in his first term as President of South Africa, 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.
Kidnapped boy Phillip Perry (T.J. Lowther) strikes up a friendship with his captor Butch Haynes (Kevin Costner): an escaped convict on the run from the law, while the search is headed up by honorable Texas Ranger "Red" Garrett (Clint Eastwood).
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 five Marines and one Navy Corpsman 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
Impressive depiction of war, less successful on an emotional level
Learning that Clint Eastwood teamed up with Steven Spielberg and Paul "Crash" Haggis for this ambitious project about the epic battle for Iwo Jima in the Pacific, I didn't know what to expect. The results are not entirely positive, but the film does offer spectacle of the highest order. The first part is the strongest with grandly filmed battle scenes on the island of Iwo Jima (filmed on the volcanic wastelands of Iceland), which constitutes some very intense film-making, impressively filmed and nearly on par with the battle scenes in SAVING PRIVATE RYAN. In the second part we get to see the men who raised the famous flag on a tour at home to raise money for the necessary war bonds, although the occasional flashback takes us back to the battlefield.
I must admit, this one has elements of greatness in almost every department, but somehow these don't quite glue together as intended. The film seems to suffer from three evenly strong-handed approaches. The script by Paul Haggis eagerly wants to take us on an emotional roller-coaster in the second half, where the focus increasingly shifts to the story of Ira Hayes in the aftermath of the battle. There's obviously a strong hand of Steven Spielberg, who always wants to show us the human side of the story, which Clint obviously wants too, but he tends to do it in a different way. There seems to be a clash of wills, with these three major forces at work here. Ultimately, FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS is not about the war proceedings itself, but how the war affected the men who fought in it themselves, and how they refused to be seen as heroes.
It's hard to dislike any of Clint Eastwood's films and with this one, and the follow-up LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA, he made two films of epic proportions, that will undoubtedly compete for the Oscars. Both of the films that is, as they were released by different distributors, "Flags" is with Dreamworks and "Letters" with Warner Brothers.
We'll see, so far, so good. I wasn't blown away by this one, but certainly a film to respect. Difficult to judge this, before seeing the follow-up LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA, which shows the Japanese perspective of the story. I strongly suspect Clint saved the best for last and that "Letters" will be his ultimate showcase.
Camera Obscura --- 7/10
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