Flags of Our Fathers
Clint Eastwood is rapidly becoming one of my favorite story tellers. In his latest film, Flags of Our Fathers, he tells the story of the men who raised a flag over Iwo Jima. The story unflolds along three time lines… 1. the battle of Iwo Jima, 2. the road trip around the country to sell US bonds, and 3. near the end of life of one of the flag raisers. Eastwood weaves the timelines fluidly, sometimes in a linear fashion, sometimes in a flashback within a flashback, but all the time, doing it in a way that tells a Story.
The cast does a serviceable job of acting here, by that I mean you’re not seeing dialogues and scenes on par with The Departed but they still tell the story well. Ryan Phillippe plays the main character and you don’t see too much emotional depth from him. What you do see is a medic willing to jeopardize himself in order to help fallen soldiers. Adam Beach plays Ira Hayes, the increasingly self destructive Indian who is tortured with his role as a bond raiser and life after the war. His emotional journey from stoic to emotive character garners your sympathy as you see the toll on himself grow heavier with time. Jamie Bell plays Ryan Phillippe’s buddy in a small part that just made me smile. Phillippe’s character asks him at one point if there’s anything at all that doesnt make him happy after Bell tells him they’re going in first.
As much as I enjoyed the movie, I really loved the questions the movie raised without directly raising them. Do we need heroes? And do we really need the government to give them to us? In the movie, the guys were asked by the president himself to give a speaking tour around the country to help raise money for the war effort, at a time when funding was at a low point… money needed for tanks, bullets, and all the rest of the war accoutrements. It has to make you wonder about people like Jessica Lynch, who through no fault of her own, became an American hero, just when we needed it. Yeah….. think about that one.
Lastly, if you see this movie… stay through the credits. Through the end, Eastwood puts up black and white photos taken during the actual battle of Iwo Jima. It’s haunting to see how he’s recreated exactly some of the camera angles and images of wounded soldiers and platoons at play in the old war photos.
arnoldcam grade: would see again, would buy the DVD