Flags of our Fathers (2006) - Plot Summary Poster


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  • The life stories of the six men who raised the flag at the Battle of Iwo Jima, a turning point in World War II.

  • In 1945, the Marines attack twelve thousand Japaneses protecting the twenty square kilometers of the sacred Iwo Jima island in a very violent battle. When they reach the Mount Suribachi and five Marines and one Navy Corpsman raise their flag on the top, the picture becomes a symbol in a post Great Depression America. The government brings the three survivors to America to raise funds for war, bringing hope to desolate people, and making the three men heroes of the war. However, the traumatized trio has difficulty dealing with the image built by their superiors, sharing the heroism with their mates.

  • During World War II, the American Government's war chest was empty because the American people didn't have faith that they could win, so they stopped buying war bonds. So a campaign was launched using the photo of the flag raising at Iwo Jima. Now the three surviving men in the picture, John "Doc" Bradley (Ryan Phillippe), Rene Gagnon (Jesse Bradford), and Ira Hayes (Adam Beach) are brought back to the U.S. for the bond drive. But when they arrive, they learn that the story the government released to the press is full of inaccuracies and they have keep on saying the story even though it's not true. While Rene Gagnon has no trouble saying it, John "Doc" Bradley and Ira Hayes are not comfortable with it.

  • The picture of five Marines and one Navy Corpsman raising the U.S. flag after the exhausting, bloody conquest of barren volcanic island Iwo Jima, the first piece of sacred home soil the Japanese must cede, becomes iconic too for the Pacific campaign at the time, giving false sense of victory being nearly won. A complex structure of flashbacks interlaces three phases in their lives. First the battle, involving countless comrades, many of whom fell like the Japanese defenders. Then, the survivors being commandeered as the face of a homeland tour to sell the public war bonds to refill the empty war chest, a luxury reprieve from battle, but also a guilt paradox. Finally the after-war, mainly trying to fit in civilian life again, until the present of the narrator, son of one of them.

  • The story behind one of the most iconic war images, and the consequences thereof. The photo of six men, five Marines and one Navy Corpsman, raising the U.S. flag over Mount Surabachi during the Battle of Iwo Jima in World War II is one of war's most memorable, stirring, famous, and iconic images. We see the aftermath of the flag raising, how three of those men went back to the U.S. as heroes and were used to promote war bond sales. Most of all, we see how they react and cope (or don't cope) with the fame and hero status. Through flashbacks we also see the lead-up to the flag raising, especially the bitter, bloody fighting on Iwo Jima, and the fighting afterwards, which was equally bloody.

  • In February, 1945, one of the fiercest battles of the Pacific theater of World War II occurs on the tiny island of Iwo Jima. Thousands of Marines attack the stronghold maintained by thousands of Japanese, and the slaughter on both sides is horrific. Early in the battle, an American flag is raised atop the high point, Mount Suribachi, and a photograph of the raising becomes an American cause célèbre. As a powerful inspiration to war-sick Americans, the photo becomes a symbol of the Allied cause. The three surviving flag raisers, Rene Gagnon (Jesse Bradford), John "Doc" Bradley (Ryan Phillippe), and Ira Hayes (Adam Beach), are whisked back to civilization to help raise funds for the war effort. But the accolades for heroism heaped upon the three men are at odds with their own personal realizations that thousands of real heroes lie dead on Iwo Jima, and that their own contributions to the fight are only symbolic and not deserving of the singling out they are experiencing. Each of the three must come to terms with the honors, exploitation, and grief that they face simply for being in a photograph.


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • There were five Marines and one Navy Corpsman photographed raising the U.S. flag on Mt. Suribachi by Joe Rosenthal on February 23, 1945. "Flags of Our Fathers" is the story of three of the six surviving servicemen, John "Doc" Bradley (Ryan Phillippe), Pvt. Rene Gagnon (Jesse Bradford), and Pvt. Ira Hayes (Adam Beach), who fought in the battle to take Iwo Jima. The picture became one of the most famous images of the U.S. winning a battle during WWII. However, the battle for Iwo Jima raged on for another month with three of the marines being killed in action. The other three servicemen were taken out of battle and flown back to the states. The photo made these men heroes, and the government used these new heroes to promote the selling of war bonds on the War Bond Tour. The three men did not believe they were heroes, even though the American public did. Douglas Young (the-movie-guy)

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