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Letters from Iwo Jima (2006)

1:27 | Clip
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.


Clint Eastwood


Iris Yamashita (screenplay), Iris Yamashita (story) | 3 more credits »
4,453 ( 184)
Won 1 Oscar. Another 23 wins & 39 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Ken Watanabe ... General Kuribayashi
Kazunari Ninomiya ... Saigo
Tsuyoshi Ihara ... Baron Nishi
Ryô Kase ... Shimizu
Shidô Nakamura ... Lieutenant Ito (as Shidou Nakamura)
Hiroshi Watanabe ... Lieutenant Fujita
Takumi Bando ... Captain Tanida
Yuki Matsuzaki ... Nozaki
Takashi Yamaguchi ... Kashiwara
Eijiro Ozaki ... Lieutenant Okubo
Nae ... Hanako
Nobumasa Sakagami Nobumasa Sakagami ... Admiral Ohsugi
Lucas Elliot Eberl ... Sam (as Lucas Elliot)
Sonny Saito ... Medic Endo (as Sonny Seiichi Saito)
Steve Santa Sekiyoshi Steve Santa Sekiyoshi ... Kanda


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 (Ken Watanabe) 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 amongst his staff. In the lower echelons, a young soldier, Saigo (Kazunari Ninomiya), 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, Kuribayashi and Saigo find strength, honor, courage, and horrors beyond imagination. Written by Jim Beaver <jumblejim@prodigy.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


From Clint Eastwood, director of FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS, the battle of Iwo Jima seen through the eyes of the Japanese soldiers. See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for graphic war violence | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


The only Best Picture Oscar nominee that year not to be nominated in any of the acting categories. See more »


It is mentioned a few times that Admiral Ozawa's fleet was utterly destroyed off the Marianas. This is incorrect. While it is true the Japanese naval air forces were wiped out, the US Navy only sank 3 carriers. The remainder of the IJN fleet remained intact and was quite powerful consisting of more than 10 battleships and other heavy ships. The IJN was not fully destroyed until the US invaded the Philipines in Nov. 1944. See more »


General Tadamichi Kuribayashi: We will build those underground fortifications. And fight till the end.
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Referenced in The 15:17 to Paris (2018) See more »


String Quartet No.6, Op. 1-6, Hob. III-6, Mov.2
Composed by Joseph Haydn
At a party where Ken Watanabe participated
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User Reviews

Courage and horror war with a Japanese point of sight
28 October 2008 | by ma-cortesSee all my reviews

The film concerns about General Kuribayashi(Ken Watanabe)who takes command of the troops on the island of Iwo Jima, he's responsible for the defense of the island from the US army , one of the most difficult campaigns of the Pacific theater. While a young soldier named Saigo(Ninomiya) faces the war horror. When the battle starts , both Kuribayashi and Saigo encounter courage, bravery, and honor.The picture is magnificently directed by Clint Eastwood(Flag of our fathers), and his son Kyle Eastwood realized an atmospheric musical score. Appropriate and colorful cinematography by Tom Stern. Spectacular production design by Henry Bumstead in his last film , he usually worked for Alfred Hitchcock and Clint Eastwood. Splendid screenplay by Paul Haggis(also producer along with Steven Spielberg). Rating : Above average, well worth watching.

Adding more details over the largely described on the movie, the events happened of the following manner: Iwo Jima is a tiny island of volcanic rock and black sand. It has no natural water supply and covers just 8 square miles. Its capture was vital to the US war effort , however. It was one of the inner ring of islands protecting mainland Japan. It also lay almost halfway between the Japanese home island and the Marianas which had been occupied by US forces in mid-1944. The island was defended by 21.000 Japanese. The commander , Major General Kuribayashi had worked hard to add to the natural defenses , especially around Mount Suribachi and in the North. He had built one of the most formidable defensive complexes of the war. It had miles of tunnels and trenches , hundred of underground emplacements, antitank ditches and mini-fields. Kuribayashi knew that the garrison had no hope of any outside help and could not withdraw from the island. He ordered his men to fight and die in their trenches. They should kill as many enemy as possible, using the network of tunnels to get destruction squads, joining a squad meant almost certain death. Kuribayashi chose not to oppose the initial landings on the beaches. He would lure the US troops inland into the web of defensive positions in the interior. The US invasion was code-named operation detachment. When US bombers began attacking was bombed every day in what was the longest and heaviest aerial bombardment of the whole Pacific war. The landings involved 800 warships, manned by a total of 220.000 crew. About 110.000 troops were to take part in the initial assault of follow-on landings. The landings themselves were responsibility of three Marine Divisions under the command of Major General Harry Schmidt. US Marines took cover from Japanese fire on a beach of volcanic sand, March 5,1945 and Mount Suribachi rises behind them. The island was declared secure on March 26, the 36 days of fighting had taken a terrible toll on both sides. Some 5.931 Marines had been killed and 17.372 wounded. There were also about 2.800 naval casualties. The precise number of Japanese dead is not known. Only 216 men surrendered during the fighting, although another 900 or so surrendered later. The rest of the 21.000 troops died. The intensity of the fighting for Iwo Jima worried US commanders and politicians. The Japanese had been willing to die almost to a man to protect a tiny part of their homeland. They had inflicted severe losses on the US forces.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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USA | Japan


Japanese | English

Release Date:

2 February 2007 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Red Sun, Black Sand See more »

Filming Locations:

Iceland See more »


Box Office


$19,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$89,097, 24 December 2006

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

DTS | SDDS | Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
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