The Bottom Line
Letters takes a more compelling and emotionally engaging approach to the Battle of Iwo Jima than Flags of Our Fathers did. Eastwood's Letters takes all the elements of a classic war film and delivers a taut, gripping tale about the hardships of war.
- One of the best movies of 2006
- Loaded with extraordinary performances
- Makes you wish theaters (other than drive-ins) still played double features
- Starring Ken Watanabe, Kazunari Ninomiya, Tsuyoshi Ihara, and Ryo Kase
- In Japanese with English subtitles
- Rated R for graphic war violence
- Theatrical Release Date: December 20, 2006
Guide Review - "Letters from Iwo Jima" Movie Review
Flags of Our Fathers shined its spotlight on the military men made famous in one of the most iconic war photos in history. Flags briefly focused on the American invasion of Iwo Jima as World War II came to an end, and then quickly moved on to how the men in that spectacular photo handled being paraded across America as heroes. Letters from Iwo Jima takes an entirely different approach to the Battle of Iwo Jima, showing how the Japanese military reacted to having to defend the island against an overwhelming invading force.
Letters from Iwo Jima is a more intimate film. While plotting strategy and digging out tunnels and caves is integral to the story, it's not the central focus. Instead, the Japanese soldiers set to defend the island are shown as ordinary guys who long to be at home with their families and realize they are grossly undermanned and won't survive the war.
The characters are meticulously developed, to the point where the film drags for the first hour or so. But there's a definite reason to this approach, and the pay-off of being able to understand the complex feelings of these soldiers as they wait to fight and die defending Japanese soil is worth enduring the slow start to the film.
Eastwood, screenwriter Iris Yamashita and the entire cast and crew have made an extremely powerful film that breaks from tradition. The unique approach, superb cinematography and intense action sequences make Letters a captivating, engrossing film.