Letters from Iwo Jima

MPAA Rating: R

Entertainment: +3

Content: -2

Ken Watanabe, Kazunari, Tsuyoshi Ihara, Ryo Kase. Directed by Clint Eastwood. Produced by Mr. Eastwood and Steven Spielberg.

FILM SYNOPSIS: Filmed on location, this wartime action/bio accounts the events of the WWII Iwo Jima battle from the perspective of several Japanese soldiers.

PREVIEW REVIEW: Produced in tandem with Eastwoods marvelous Flags of Our Fathers, this stark look at the lengthy and deadly battle is both moving and revealing. The end result: we learn that the Japanese didnt want to be there, either. After they get to know a captured enemy, these soldiers discover that Americans are not barbarians and that they have much in common with their enemy. A mothers letter found on a dead American reflects what was said by a Japanese mother: Do the right thing, because its right.

In keeping with the general pacifistic mood in Hollywood, the film does a fine job with putting a human face on the enemy. This is good. This is the type of movie we should be showing to the terrorists of the world. It might cause them to unstrap suicide bombs and lay down their beheading swords. No? And there lies the fault of anti-war films. They are always shown to the wrong people.

The nation of Japan must be forgiven and shown respect. But Pearl Harbor, which led to four years of American involvement in that war and this particularly gruesome encounter, must never be forgotten. In reality, the Japanese were a fearsome and extremely brutal enemy. Many believe they were far more sadistic than even the Nazis. Thats not depicted here. Of course, Japan is our buddy now, so it would be politically incorrect to recreate the savagery they brought to war. It might seem positive to downplay and forget such atrocities. After all, it was nearly 70 years ago. But remembering the events of WWII will keep us on guard and remind us that an entire nation can be blinded by evil even when their cause seems noble.

For a more honest portrayal of the events of WWII, view the video alternative: The Great Raid. Director John Dahl recreates the gritty reality-based story of one of the most spectacular rescue missions ever to take place in American history: the great raid on Cabanatuan, the daring exploit that would liberate more than 500 U.S. prisoners of war in the Philippines in 1945. A gripping depiction of human resilience, the film vividly brings to life the personal courage and audacious heroism that allowed a small but stoic band of World War II soldiers to attempt the impossible in the hope of freeing their captured brothers.

Many may question the need to bring up the incident when we are now allies to some extent with Japan and Germany. It would be a mistake to assume that this film is anti anybody. World War II was a defining moment in world history as it made clear that evil exists and that it can blind an entire nation. Yes, the Japanese did horrific things to the Chinese, to the Filipinos and to the Americans. Unspeakable things. Damnable things. But blind villainy has fallen upon many nations, including, the Roman Empire, Spain and Germany. Evil can befall any nation and must be guarded against or it will overcome any country that displaces Gods commandments.

Unlike Letters From Iwo Jima, which has one agenda, to put a friendly face on wartime enemies, The Great Raid is great history, and certainly it should be shared with younger generations in order that the sacrifice not be forgotten. However, the film is not just a history lesson. The filmmaker never forgets his main objective: to entertain. Completely enthralling, the characters are well defined, the pacing is engaging and the technical achievements are as good as youll find in any bigger-budgeted blockbuster.

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright
Paramount Pictures

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: None

Obscene Language: A few minor expletives, but I caught no harsh language.

Profanity: None

Violence: Wartime atrocities are depicted, there are several views of blown-up bodies and other graphic visuals. But the filmmaker is not attempting to gross us out, but rather to give an honest portrait of the outcome of war. Blood: Several scenes are bloody.

Sex: None

Nudity: None

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: None

Drugs: None

Other: None

Running Time: 144 minutes
Intended Audience: Older teens and adults

Click HERE for a PRINTER-FRIENDLY version of this review.