Friday, October 27, 2006

Flags of Our Fathers

Aside from being one of my favorite actors, Clint Eastwood has evolved into one of my favorite directors and once again, he doesn't disappoint. I applaud his decision to tell this story and all the people involved, including the two studios that financed it. In telling the true story of the flag raising at Iwo Jima in World War Two, Eastwood doesn't portray the U.S. Government in a patriotic glow but rather a political machine using a simple act of replacing a flag as a rousing manipulative battle cry for the war effort.

The famous photo of the six men raising the flag at Iwo Jima is embedded in our history and the hearts and minds of generations of Americans. When you learn the true story behind that photograph, it paints a very different picture and it's an important story that needed to be told.

Eastwood handles the battle sequences very well and of course, comparisons will be made to "Saving Private Ryan" (Spielberg is one of "Flags" producers). The digital effects are seamless and the action all too realistic. But as Eastwood has shown in many of his films, he is just as deft in the quiet moments, making his points with a poetic dignity.

Death is everywhere on Iwo Jima and the three men from the flag raising group who survive are sent home as heroes to represent patriotism at it's best. The problem is these men don't see themselves as heroes and this story is as heartbreaking as it's stirring. The three survivors are portrayed by Ryan Phillippe, Adam Beach, and Jesse Bradford. All three are terrific and couldn't be more different in the way they handle the sudden spotlight.

I would recommend staying for the credits as actual photos are shown and in a small way, you can do honor to the men who fought and died on that barren rock.

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