Flags of Our Fathers (2006)
The first of two films by the director Clint Eastwood that deals with the Japanese island of Iwo-Jima. Here in Flags of our Fathers (2006) focusing on the American perspective of the battle for Iwo-Jima, and honing in on the famous flag raising photos that epitomised the American war-hero image for years to come. A case of the legend outweighing the truth and how the surviving soldiers coped with the events of that surround that campaign.
At times Flags of our Fathers smells like Saving Private Ryan and it will do with Steven Spielberg sharing executive producer duties with Eastwood. Helped further by the James Bradley and Ron Powers book that was adapted to the screen. Which needs to see a son seeking out the truth for himself. Something that relatives of veterans, some of those have spoken of the horrors that have seen whilst other have taken a vow of silence, never to speak of it again.
For those involved in the Iwo-Jima campaign this is made worse by glorifying and using soldiers who simply raised a flag for the countries advantage. Brought about by the legend that surrounds a photo taken at the time of this flag that was raised in replacement for another that was taken down. As film has shown before, the truth is not always as interesting as the legend which creates heroes.
For three soldiers this fact or fiction is the centre of their lives for this film, the lucky one who survived the campaign whilst their friends fell on the island that they fought so hard to maintain. Brought back home for a touring campaign to raise essential war-bonds that were needed to fuel the war effort. Re-invigorating the production of everything from planes, tanks to bullets and helmets. Much Britain whose economy was crippled by WWII. Now these three men have to be the face of a campaign, as heroes who by looking at the photo, just raised a flag, against all the odd. The film allows for more light to be shed on such a historic photograph that has become iconic. Later thought to have been staged like many other images have been. An issue that will always surround the validity of photography, can we believe what we see? No other image is taken of another flag raising. The image also came a time when moral was low, this one image sees the coming together of all kinds of American men carrying out dangerous acts. What is more patriotic for a country than to see their flag raised on enemy soil. It’s understandable that the nation went wild for this image. Yet we never see what was going on around this image, the danger and horrors around them. The Japanese who were hiding out, aiming for the enemy. Blowing themselves up in shame of losing ground.
Eastwood doesn’t shy away from the guts and gore that accompany war, from people being shot to literally being blown up before your eyes. It’s real, its really happened. Along with the struggles that the soldiers at the centre of the film, how they cope with the attention that is being thrown at them. I was particularly interested in Ira Hayes (Adam Beach) who struggles more than most, taking to alcohol. Also a Native American who after the war hoped this would help improve relations with them and the rest of America. The fame has mixed result for them all, they know the truth and feel duty bound to ensure it’s heard by those families who need it most. They aren’t painted as heroes, as the nation sees them, but men who are caught up in a countries hysteria and patriotism. They go on to live out the rest of their lives however they may end. Flags of our Fathers shines light on the legends that are made of war to boost morale and the effect it has on those who are silenced by the powers that be, having to fight more battles to see the truth to finally out.
- 2011: Japan Pledges to Find Remains of Iwo Jima Dead (warhistoryonline.com)
- Letters From Iwo Jima (myoldaddiction.wordpress.com)
- Iwo Jima: “…A Beachhead On Hell” (warhistoryonline.com)
- Flags of our Fathers (dailydoseofhistoricalstuff.wordpress.com)
- Japan changes Iwo Jima’s name (dangadino53.wordpress.com)
- Famous Statue of Iwo Jima Troops – the Man Who Supplied the Flag Passes Into Immortality (bonjublog.com)
- The Flag Of Iwo Jima (warnewsupdates.blogspot.com)
- World War II vet who provided flag on Iwo Jima dead at 90 (foxnews.com)
- Man Who Carried Famous Flag From Pearl Harbor To Iwo Jima Dies At 90 (businessinsider.com)