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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Letters from Iwo Jima (2006)


Country: USA/Japan
Genre: war, history
Format: movie
Cast: Watanabe Ken, Ninomiya Kazunari, Ihara Tsuyoshi, Kaze Ryo, Nakamura Shido, Watanabe Hiroshi, Bando Takumi, Matsuzaki Yuki, Yamaguchi Takashi, Ozaki Eijiro, Nae, Sakagami Nobumasa, Luke Eberl, Sonny Saito, Mark Moses
Synopsis: World War II, battle between USA and Japan on island called Iwo Jima. Japanese solders are sent to Iwo Jima to protect their country from USA invasion, but lack of military help from the headparty puts soldiers into the position, where returning home alive seems to be impossible. Saigo is young baker, who had almost everything taken away and wants to see his child and wife again. Gen. Kuribayashi has travelled in America and does not favor the traditional Japanese army policy and reglements, which makes him disrespected by many Lieutenants. There are men who believe in pacifism and men who rather die than surrender.  
Rating: 5/5
Clint Eastwood made this movie to be a companion to "Flags of our fathers", which shows USA version of the battle of Iwo Jima. "Letters from Iwo Jima" is made after original General Tadamichi
Kuribayashi's letters, which he sent to his family.
Gen. Kuribayashi believes that there is another way to live. He has different war methods, that are based on logic and strategy while others only think about theory and set regalement. I think that not listening to Gen. and lack of communication between troops made Japanese army very vulnerable. Watanabe Ken in this role was more than significant. He read all the original letters through to play the character as real as he could.
Saigo, played by Ninomiya Kazunari, represents all those soldiers, who had everything taken away and were forced to fight and die for their country. He is the most sarcastic person in the film, yet he tries to see the positive light hoping there is a way back to home. He writes letters to his wife, but most of them might never reach her because of the censorship.
There are many other characters. Like Lt. Nishi, former Olympic champion of horse riding, and Shimizu, former army police officer, who has a lot of heart, but at the same time there are Lt. Ito and Admiral Ohsugi, who find Kuribayashi's views wrong. Putting these kind of different human nature's onto one limited area makes it even more complicated to preserve one's dignity and common sense. 
"Letters from Iwo Jima" script was actually written in English and later translated into Japanese. The shootings were mostly made in Barstow and Bakersfield in California. The on-location shootings are only the skeleton crew scenes. Filming crew got only one day, after being given a special permission by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, to film on Iwo Jima. Want the reason? There are still more than 10 000 missing Japanese solders resting underneath the soil. 
About 3/4 of the movie I cried, so after first 30th minutes I started crying. I am 100% pacifist and I hate-hate-hate-hate wars. Just to think that millions die from wars, millions lose someone precious to them, millions lose their homes and nature takes tens and tens years to recover - I cannot stand it. It is just too much pain and many times for pointless reasons.
I think it is another movie, which you must see to understand history.


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