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 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 among his staff. In the lower echelons, a young soldier, Saigo, 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, both Kuribayashi and Saigo find strength, honor, courage, and horrors beyond imagination.
Iris Yamashita (screenplay); Iris Yamashita (story); Paul Haggis (story); Tadamichi Kuribayashi (book "Picture Letters from Commander in Chief"); Tsuyoko Yoshido (book "Picture Letters from Commander in Chief").
Ken Watanabe (General Kuribayashi); Kazunari Ninomiya (Saigo); Tsuyoshi Ihara (Baron Nishi); Ryo Kase (Shimizu); Shido Nakamura (Lieutenant Ito (as Shidou Nakamura)); Hiroshi Watanabe (Lieutenant Fujita); Takumi Bando (Captain Tanida); Yuki Matsuzaki (Nozaki). Please contact SFC to add other cast members and characters.
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Story not strong enough to carry the films.
Mark Banks (United Kingdom)
Opinion: Limited Recommendation
(Note: The following review is written for both Flags of Our Fathers and Letters from Iwo Jima) I think it’s little questioned that the technical aspects of these films really are quite good, especially with respect to the battle scenes which, post Saving Private Ryan, every director appears to want to try their hand at. My over-riding criticism of the two films though is that I just didn’t feel there was a strong enough story there in the first place. In the first film Flags of Our Fathers, the basic story lines of who was there, who wasn’t there, and we’re not the real heroes, really seemed to be stretched to breaking point. Whilst in Letters from Iowa Jima the boundaries of sentimentality were continually pushed. The use of animals twice as plot devices to show the characters’ human side showed a lack of creativity with respect to writing ability. I felt both films had a distinct air of Eastwood melancholy underlying them and both failed to establish any clear message/moral from the stories. In addition to this I felt both films were the wrong side of the two-hour mark and could have done with some editing. I like the way Mr Eastwood attempted to show both sides of the story, but I can’t help but feel it all would’ve been better to package the whole thing differently somehow.