Flags Of Our Fathers tells the story of the Allied invasion of Iwo Jima through the eyes of the six soldiers who became iconic when photographed erecting the stars and stripes on the island.
Yet another beautifully accomplished and mature film from Clint Eastwood, Flags Of Our Fathers takes an unsentimental look at not only the battle itself, but also the long term psychological effect on the men that fought in it and the way in which a single piece of propaganda can have just as much of an impact as a fleet of battleships. It skilfully and believably represents the battlefield in a way that may not be as visceral as Saving Private Ryan, but still gives a feeling of what it must have been like as well as encompassing every aspect of the invasion, from the infantry landings through to the naval bombardment and air attacks which is all very impressively staged. It didn’t give me the same emotional impact as its companion Letters From Iwo Jima, probably because the American side of things has been told almost ad nauseum and I felt that the film lost some steam towards the end; the most interesting character was Adam Beach but his inability to cope with fundamental dichotomy of “heroism” just resulted in him getting drunk and throwing up a lot.
It’s still a very worthy and intelligent addition to the genre and the two films together make for a fascinating insight into recent history.