Urban Cinefile
"I told them not to be shy about making fun of me because, of course, they must have been on a very precarious perch"  -John Malkovich on the making of Being John Malkovich
 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Tuesday September 18, 2018 

Printable page PRINTABLE PAGE



In February 1945, one of the crucial battles of World War II - the US/Japan fight for the Western Pacific island of Iwo Jima - culminated with a simple photo that was to become an iconic image: five Marines and a Navy corpsman raising the American flag on Mount Suribachi. The inspiring photo became a symbol of victory to a nation that had grown weary of war and it made instant heroes of the six soldiers, some of whom would die soon after, never knowing that they had been immortalized. The surviving flag raisers, including one black American, had no interest in being held up as symbols; they wanted to stay on the front with their brothers in arms who were fighting and dying without fanfare or glory.

Review by Louise Keller:
Clint Eastwood continues to surprise us with his latest work, a reflective war drama that takes a solitary event in Japan at the end of World War II as the means to explore the notion of what is a hero. Astutely crafted with monochromatic flashbacks to intense battle scenes, this powerfully layered film observes the futility of war, the hypocrisy of the government and the emptiness behind the heroism labels. Eastwood also explores the ugliness of media manipulation as he reveals the actual circumstances when the high profile, morale-boosting, flag-raising photograph was published. Based on a book written by the son of one of the men acclaimed as a hero, the film is hard-hitting, disturbing and profoundly moving, as it reopens history books and canvasses the human price of war.

There were six men who raised the American flag on the barren island of Mount Suribachi, which military strategist suggested looked a little like a burnt pork chop. The event was recorded for posterity by photographer Joe Rosenthal, who ironically quipped 'Ok guys who wants to be famous?' Three of the men survived, and were quickly snapped up by the war effort machine as pawns in a tawdry fund-raising campaign.

The heavy battle scenes (shot on the black beaches of Iceland) are frighteningly authentic, and we can understand the camaraderie between the young soldiers, as we dip in and out of three different time frames. Ryan Phillippe, Jesse Bradford and Adam Beach (Windtalkers) play the three surviving soldiers with great sensitivity, but it's Beach as the American Indian with a drinking problem, whose plight touches us deepest. Honour and vulgarity sit side by side as the men are forced to re-enact the raising of the flag by climbing onto a man-made mountain of paper mache before an audience of thousands. Tacky reaches a new low at a splashy dinner where ice-cream moulded into six figures swim in blood-red strawberry sauce. Solid performances by the entire ensemble cast which includes Paul Walker, Jamie Bell and Barry Pepper, no doubt keen to work with Eastwood. Eastwood also composed the music: the modulations from major to minor keys are in synch with the film's ever-changing mood.

Clint Eastwood introduces the 2 disc Special Edition DVD which contains detailed special features about the adaptation of the script, the making of the film, the visual effects and the real battle of Iwo Jima. Eastwood and keycast introduces the real life characters they portray and they discuss re-enacting the historic flag-raising.

Published May 31, 2007

Email this article

Favourable: 2
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

(US, 2006)

CAST: Ryan Phillippe, Jesse Bradford, Adam Beach, Paul Walker, Jamie Bell, Barry Pepper, John Benjamin Hickey

PRODUCER: Clint Eastwood, Robert Lorenz, Steven Spielberg

DIRECTOR: Clint Eastwood

SCRIPT: William Broyles jr, Paul Haggis (novel by James Bradley with Ron Powers)


EDITOR: Joel Cox

MUSIC: Clint Eastwood


RUNNING TIME: 132 minutes


AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: November 2, 2006


SPECIAL FEATURES: Special 2 disc edition: An introduction by Clint Eastwood; Words on the Page - Clint Eastwood with screenwriters discuss the creation of the book and adaptation of script; Six brave Men - Clint Eastwood and key cast introduce the real life characters portrayed' The Making of an Epic - Led by Clint Eastwood, an inside look at the creation of the film; Raising the flag - Clint Eastwood and key cast discuss reenacting the historic flag-raising on Iwo Jima.

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Warner Home Video

DVD RELEASE: May 16, 2007

Urban Cinefile 1997 - 2018