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 Movie Spotlight
Letters from Iwo Jima

Release Date: December 20, 2006 (NY, LA; wider release: January 12, 2007; wider release: January 19)
Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures

Director: Clint Eastwood
Screenwriter: Iris Yamashita
Starring: Ken Watanabe, Kazunari Ninomiya, Tsuyoshi Ihara, Ryo Kase, Shido Nakamura, Yuki Matsuzaki, Hiroshi Watanabe, Takumi Bando, Nobumasa Sakagami, Takashi Yamaguchi, Nae Yuuki
Genre: Action, Drama, War
MPAA Rating: R (for graphic war violence)
Official Website: IwoJimathemovie.com

Plot Summary: Sixty-one years ago, U.S. and Japanese armies met on Iwo Jima. Decades later, several hundred letters are unearthed from that stark island's soil. The letters give faces and voices to the men who fought there, as well as the extraordinary general who led them, Tadamichi Kuribayashi (Ken Watanabe). With little defense other than sheer will and the volcanic rock of the island itself, Gen. Kuribayashi's unprecedented tactics transform what was predicted to be a quick and bloody defeat into nearly 40 days of heroic and resourceful combat.

In an effort to explore an event that continues to resonate with both cultures, Clint Eastwood was haunted by the sense that making only one film, "Flags of Our Fathers," would be telling only half the story. With this unprecedented dual film project, shot back-to-back to be released in sequence, Eastwood seeks to reveal the battle of Iwo Jima--and, by implication, the war in the Pacific--as a clash not only of arms but of cultures

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  Review


Review by Peter Veugelaers

 The follow-up and companion piece to Hollywood legendary personage Clint Eastwood’s Flags of our Fathers tells the story of the World War II battle over island Iwo Jima from the Japanese perspective. Eastwood is on a directorial role. Since Mystic River, Million Dollar Baby and last year’s Flags, the quality and depth is superb.

In Flags of our Fathers the American perspective made for a strong piece of filmmaking. Iwo Jima goes better. War as futilism is hinted at from the beginning: the trenches the Japanese dig will end with their bodies in them, one says. For the first hour of screen time the soldiers prepare for imminent attack. With Japan losing in the war, defeatism is heard amongst them... But dying an honourable death in spite of defeat is even as important. If the American soldiers capture the island they effectively provide the opportunity to launch an offensive against the Japanese mainland.

However, it’s imperative that General Kuribayashi (Ken Watanabe) leads the Japanese by providing resistance in unrelenting planning and concern for the welfare of his troops. Internal factions smack of war movie cliché: the general’s forthright and clear no-nonsense tactics is questionable by some of his subordinates. Whispers questioning his integrity are uttered. Rivalry is created.

The contrast of personal lives to the battle at the hand adds a layer of humanising which culminates together to provide a powerful punch in the theme by movie’s end. Soldier Saigo (Kazunari Ninomiya) has a family at home; we get to see a few flashbacks. It provides a potent view in range of the scenes before and after it; going to war means his family is at risk.

Letters from Iwo Jima engrosses from the first sequence of war preparation until the final images. The graphic war scenes are sometimes unnerving; the worst to watch is a culturally sensitive Japanese suicide in the name of dying with dignity, so the cultural dynamics unfold authentically and humanly, considering the situation, albeit hard to stomach.

The effect of watching this battle unfold, told within the whole of the narrative framework, is powerhouse, a reminder of the fallen world in its state of groping and fatalism and also how there is a side to people which desires beauty, resonance and a better life captured in luminously photographed images.

 Interviews
Excerpt of our Millimeter Magazine's interview with Ocsar-winning director Clint Eastwood about the making of Eastwood's film "Letters from Iwo Jima."
 Features
Letters from Iwo Jima - Saigo clip
 Clips
7 Clips (12.21.06): Windows Media Player, Various

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Trailer (12.15.06):

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International Trailer (12.14.06):
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Japanese Combo Trailer:
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Japanese Trailer (11.2.06):
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International TV Spot 1a (12.06.06):
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International TV Spot 1b (12.06.06):
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International TV Spot 1c (12.06.06):
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International TV Spot 2 (12.06.06):
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International TV Spot 3 (12.06.06):
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