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Letters From Iwo Jima (SE)
DVD disk
06.12.2007 By: Sturdy
Letters From Iwo Jima (SE) order
Director:
Clint Eastwood

Actors:
Ken Watanabe
Kazunari Ninomiya
Tsuyoshi Ihara

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
The companion piece to FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS, Letters tells the story from the Japanese point of view. We follow a young soldier as he deals with infighting amongst his commanding officers, leaving his family and discovering who the Americans really are.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
I was surprised when I first heard that Clint Eastwood was making this film because I was wandering how he was going to tell the story from the Japanese point of view without coming off anti-American. Well, Iím pleased to say that he succeeded in making an enjoyable film and very aptly told the story from a unique point of view.

I was impressed that Eastwood managed to make me feel sympathetic to the Japanese story and that fact is a real credit to Eastwoodís storytelling ability. Throughout the history of film, we as Americans have been shown that the Americans are the good guys and anyone who opposes us are the bad guys. Eastwood isnít the first to go against that type, but he did it in a way that just seemed to work. In truth, he didnít really have ďbadĒ guys in either film, he just set out to make a war movie and attempted to tell the story from both points of view.

Thereís a part of me that wouldíve liked to see FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS and LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA morphed into one film. I watched them back-to-back and I think it would make for an interesting film. Of course, a lot of stuff would have to be cut out, but it worked for TORA! TORA! TORA!. By combining the two, I think it would have given Mr. Eastwood more focus. As it was, there were storylines that were unnecessary and distracted from the overall film.

As great and as carefully as the story was told, I was left feeling a little empty at the end of the film. When held up to other great war movies (PLATOON, SAVING PRIVATE RYAN, etc.) I donít feel Letters quite makes the grade. I found myself bored at times and certain moments seemed to stretch on too long. Of course, Clint is held to a higher standard these days and anything short of spectacular is a letdown. Despite a handful of minor complaints, LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA is an impressive film.
THE EXTRAS
Red Sun, Black Sand (20:59): This is the basic story of how Letters made it to the big screen. Itís pretty interesting and the story is pretty historically accurate despite a few fictitious characters. Thereís a few more movie scenes than I would have liked, but there are also some good behind the scenes moments of Clint doing his directing thing. Overall, itís a good featurette.

The Faces of Combat (18:36): Cast featurettes are usually boring because we already know so much about the actors and actresses involved. In this case, however, it was cool because I didnít know anything about the cast. This featurette shed some light on them and was pretty interesting. Oh, and the Japanese casting associate (Yumi Takada) is very hot.

November 2006 World Premiere at Budo-kan (16:06): I never really get much from premier themed featurettes and this one is no different. Thereís a lot of on-site footage and clips of Eastwood and the actors shaking hands, etc.

November 2006 Press Conference (24:27): Press conferences are also pretty boring because all the questions are very typical and therefore the resulting answers are going to be very predictable. This is pretty much par for the course with nothing really interesting asked or answered.

There is also a Still montage and some Previews
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
Iím a fan of the film, but I think some audiences will struggle embracing it. Despite that, it was truly a well crafted film and fans of war movies should enjoy themselves. I definitely recommend putting this on your rental cue.
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