Sunday, January 28, 2007

I just saw "Letters from Iwo Jima"

It was a very well done movie, and I enjoyed it more than Flags of Our Fathers. I realize that Flags had a large backstory to tell with the War Bond drive after the battle and what not, but I found that Flags jumped around way too much as one second we're watching combat on Iwo Jima, then we're jumping forward a few months to the War Bond Drive, then we flashback to Iwo Jima. I never got confused, but my patience began to wear thin.

Letters from Iwo Jima was a more straightforward, more conventional war movie, with just a few quick pre-war flashbacks. The twist of course was that the movie looked at the battle for Iwo Jima from the Japanese perspective, complete with Japanese subtitles. As the viewer, it is quite an exercise to watch a movie from the enemy's point of view. As I watched the protaganist(s) of the movie attempt to cross No Man's Land in order to link up with their unit, and get shot at by nameless, faceless U.S. Marines, I found myself hoping the Japanese soldiers would make it, but also hoping that they would get killed too. After all, for any of them to live meant more U.S. Marines dying in the battle.

On my way home from work the other day, I turned on Michael Savage in time to catch him in a tirade about how Clint Eastwood, who directed Letters, tried too hard to rehabilitate the image of the Japanese soldier and gloss over their atrocities. After watching the movie, I have to say that I mostly disagree with Savage. The movie did have scenes that illustrated the brutality of the Japanese during World War II. In one scene, some Japanese soldiers drag a captured and terrified U.S. Marine into a cave and taunt him for a few moments before using him for bayonet practice. There is also a pre-battle scene where a Japanese officer instructs his men to specifically target American medics. Yes there are other atrocities that were committed by the Japanese during the War, like performing horrible medical experiments on prisoners in Manchuria, the Rape of the Chinese city of Nanking, the Bataan Death March - but none of those events happened on Iwo Jima; and the movie was only about Iwo Jima. Perhaps Savage was unhappy with the fact that the movie humanizes the Japanese soldiers to a certain extent, showing them talking about their families back home, and their lives before the war, along with all the usual gripes and terrors experienced by soldiers in combat conditions. But what did Savage want the movie to show? I was in the Army, and I can easily surmise that a Japanese soldier was just as bitchy and bored while digging a fighting position as I was. To show this fact is not acknowledging to everyone that the Japanese were then just as righteous as we were in the fighting of World War II.

Ironically, the worst brutality the Japanese inflicted during World War II was often on themselves. Dying with honor was very important to them, and they would usually kill themselves rather than be taken prisoner. This was graphically shown in the movie when a group of enlisted men - at the behest of their officer - hold grenades to their chests and are turned - one by one - into a mass of flesh lying on the floor of their cave. Watching that scene, Eastwood's direction made it clear that these soldiers did this act, maybe not so much for national honor, but more because of the tremendous peer pressure being put upon them by the other soldiers and the officer in their midst. Quite often, the Japanese soldiers seemed to be more at risk from their fellow soldiers than from the Americans, for if they retreated from a fight, even if it was to live to fight another day, or if they even had "unpatriotic" thoughts, they were in danger of being killed by their own officers.

Letters from Iwo Jima was just recently nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards. I believe that the movie deserves that nomination, and I'm glad it got the nod rather than Flags of Our Fathers. Letters did a wonderful job of illustrating the duality of man's nature, where he can be a most brutal being, while tenderly dreaming of the life he left behind.

Good Day to You, Sir


Tia said...

Another non-sequitor; my apologies.
In case you hadn't heard, Walid Shoebat is speaking at UC Davis next Tuesday.

I'll be driving in - he is supposed to be a riveting speaker.

The announcement follows:
Walid Shoebat, a former PLO terrorist who is now a peace activist will on campus. Shoebat will discuss his transformation from hate to love as a former terrorist. This lecture is excellent for anyone interested in homeland security, the Middle East, political science and history or just current events. Admission is free to UC Davis students with a student ID card. General admission seats are $12, and special reserved VIP seating is $25. VIP Tickets can be purchased by emailing, regular tickets through the UC Davis box office, (530) 752-1915, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday-Friday. This is expected to be a sold-out event, co-sponsored by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Walid Shoebat Foundation, so attendees are advised to purchase or obtain tickets early. A question-and-answer session will follow. For more information on Walid Shoebat, visit or

I suspect there will be many opportunities for entertaining moonbat observations. Over 1,000 tickets have been sold so far- when Cindy Sheehan spoke at UC Davis- only 35 tickets were sold. Maybe people are getting smarter?

Chanman said...

Thanks for the info Tia. I am going to try to attend this event if there are any tickets still available.

As usual, post any non-sequitor any time!

Yolo Cowboy said...

I went to see Mr Shoebat at UC Davis last light. A very powerful presentation indeed.