Flags of our Fathers (2006) Poster

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An amazing accomplishment
mrmatt1418 October 2006
I've always felt that when you fictionalize a story about war, you dishonor the memory of so many people who have a compelling story to tell by choosing to make something up instead *cough*privateryan*cough*.

The problem with war movies about real people is that you have to deal with complexities of character and plot that the genre simply doesn't lend itself easily to.

So when the story at hand aims to pose questions like "what does it mean to do the wrong things for the right reasons" and tries to debunk the popular myth of herodom, there's very little margin for error.

Enter Clint Eastwood. Never one to shy away from challenging stories, this is a much bigger effort than his usual understated character dramas. On the one hand, it doesn't "feel" like a Clint Eastwood movie, but on the other, it feels at home in his themes of used-up heroes -- the person behind the larger than life persona. These are complex characters in very difficult situations, and he presents them in a way that's straightforward and non-judgmental, so we're left to decide the answers to the film's central conflicts ourselves.

To a person, the cast is up to the challenge. It's hard not to admire Ryan Phillippe for a restrained and thoughtful performance, but the real kudos go to Adam Beach. Almost every aspect of Beach's character is cliché, with one minor exception - that's really the way Ira Hayes was. So the challenge was to portray Hayes as a real person despite the cliché, and the result is one of the most heartbreaking and troubling performances in the film. Here's a guy who is portrayed as a hero, who really has no answers at all.

There's a lot not to like about the film. It's not "entertaining" per se, in the same way that any war memorial in DC is not entertaining. Nor is it a particularly approachable film. What it lacks in popcorn-munching entertainment value, it replaces with gravitas. This is an important film, about an important time. It's status as a valuable history lesson is secondary to it's reflections on human nature and our society. As such, it deserves to be seen, and contemplated, and appreciated.

I can't wait for Letters From Iwo Jima (the companion piece, also from Clint Eastwood, told from the Japanese point of view.) Taken together, the scope of this project is breathtaking.
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War vs Hollywood
bartrenethiel14 October 2006
In two and a half hours Clint Eastwood paints a thought provoking piece on heroism and war-propaganda. The film tells three stories: first it is the WW II battle of Iwo Jima where thousands of soldiers (Japanese and American) died 'conquering' that island. In the style of Saving Private Ryan (Spielberg is a producer of Flags) the viewer gets a astounding look at war with a lot of blood, guts and CGI. Second is the story of a son of one of the flag raisers on that island, who interviews other survivors of that battle to understand his dad a little better. This is very moving stuff, but stands a little pale in comparison to the final storyline. This is where veteran-director Eastwood really shines. Like his meditation on violence Unforgiven, Flags takes a closer look at heroism where soldiers by chance get into the spotlight of the war-propaganda-machine. Some may say that Eastwood made an anti-war film or even an anti-America film, but they're wrong. Flags is very critical on the way war is sold to the public. There's nothing honorable about killing or to be killed on the battlefield. The only thing that matters is that you protect you're friends in your platoon and that they protect you. Flags is one of the best war movies I ever saw, maybe even better than Ryan, because it's never sentimental and always honest in its portrayal of the soldiers and war in general.
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The story is realistic and very compelling by not glorifying war
the-movie-guy20 October 2006
(Synopsis) 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.

(My Comment) The film was based on the book written by Doc's son, James Bradley. It wasn't until his father's death that he found out that Doc was one of the Iwo Jima flag raisers. Soldiers with real combat experiences usually keep their war stories to themselves. Clint Eastwood directed the film, and he didn't pull any punches in the battle scenes, even though the battle for Iwo Jima was considered one of the bloodiest against the Japanese in the Pacific. The only problem I had with the movie was that Eastwood used too many flashbacks that jumped around and made the movie hard to follow. The movie would have been better if Eastwood had gone in chronicle order with some flashbacks. During the battle scenes, you actually see the chaos that soldiers encounter on the battlefield. Overall, I found the story to be realistic and very compelling by not glorifying war. It is a long movie, but the time passes very fast. This film will receive many Oscar nominations. Some of the movie is graphically violent and shows the dark side of war, and the effects war has on our returning soldiers. (Warner Brothers Pictures, Run time 2:12, Rated R) (8/10)
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A Comparison with "Citizen Kane"
lavatch20 October 2006
Warning: Spoilers
As directed masterfully by Clint Eastwood, "Flags of Our Fathers" plays both as a war film and a sensitive human drama. It begs comparison with Orson Welles' screen masterpiece "Citizen Kane" in the film's scope and its structure.

The "rosebud" of "Flags of Our Fathers" is one of the greatest icons of American history: the photograph of the raising of the flag on the tiny island of Iwo Jima and the strategic importance of the bloody combat for the acquisition of a landing strip to nearby Japan for American planes. The questions that the film carefully traces are (1) Who were the Marines pictured in the famous photograph? and (2) Was this famous tableau a "staged" scene, as opposed to a real event?

To answer these questions, the film moves episodically among three time-frames--the horrifying battle for the hill at the western tip of Iwo Jima; the time in which three servicemen are identified as the heroes in the picture and paraded ceremonially around America to promote the sale of war bonds; and the time of the death of John "Doc" Bradley, one of the alleged Iwo Jima flag-raisers, as his son seeks to learn the hidden truth about his dad, much like the newspaper reporter on the trail of "rosebud" in "Citizen Kane."

The outstanding pacing of the film by Eastwood is matched by the creative cinematography and the work of designers who accomplish these extraordinary tasks: the recreation of the Iwo Jima theater of war with location filming; a spectacular amphibious landing; grisly scenes of combat....plus detailed period scenes on the home-front. As a minor spoiler alert: please be sure to stay through the film's closing credits for a thoughtful montage of still photographs of the Battle of Iwo Jima, as well as the three protagonists, Bradley, Gagnon, and Hayes.

Among the fine ensemble cast, it is impossible to forget Adam Beach's sensitive and heartbreaking performance as Ira Hayes, a Native American who is simultaneously made into a war hero and marginalized due to his race. Hayes never felt comfortable in claiming status as a hero for his involvement in the flag-raising. In an emotionally-wrenching scene in a hotel room before a military superior, Beach's character breaks down and poignantly expresses the camaraderie and love felt for the fallen members of his battalion. Indeed for all three of the purported flag-raisers, the true heroes were those veterans who sacrificed their lives so that the flag could be raised on Iwo Jima. For this moving and important message, "Flags of Our Fathers" deserves to be placed not only among the greatest war films of all time, but also alongside classics like "Citizen Kane."
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Important but not stellar
gregsrants15 October 2006
What do you get when you cross an Academy Award winning director whose movies tend to follow the lives of individuals and their consequences of the violence around them, an award winning writer that deals with racism and the map of the human spirit and a producer that has a penchant for World War II history who is a master of telling epic stories on the widescreen canvas? Well, you get Clint Eastwood, Paul Haggis and Steven Spielberg who have teamed up for the first time to bring to the screen the new WWII story of the six soldiers who raised the American flag at Iwo Jima and became media heroes in the new film Flags of our Fathers.

Based on the true (and relatively unknown) story of six regular soldiers that raised the flag atop the isle of Iwo Jima and whose picture of the effort became synonymous with an impending victory of the war, Flags of our Fathers will be one of the most talked about films of 2006.

Flags of our Fathers follows the lives of three surviving members who raised the flag in 1945 atop Mount Suribachi and how the government used these three individuals and the media in an effort to spark interest in selling war bonds to the American public.

Ryan Phillippe, Jesse Bradford and Adam Beach play John "Doc" Bradley, Rene Gagnon and Ira Hayes respectively. These three individuals were partly responsible for the second American flag raising on that graced newspapers and magazine covers all over the world.

If you caught it, I did write the 'second American flag raising'. A fact that it seemed not one of us in the packed pre-screening knew before the films closing credits. Six soldiers on the 5th day of the island's invasion planted the flag of infamy just seconds after the first flag was that was erected was taken down. As the picture made its circles in every American media outlet available, Bradley, Gagnon and Hayes were quickly sent packing back to the United States to be used in a cross country marketing campaign to drum up support for the troops spread out over Europe and Asia.

Not one of them believing they were true heroes, the three are persuaded to separate their reluctance from the necessity to boost morale with the American public and ask for funds to continue with the necessary production of tanks, grenades, guns and armor. The film then switches between their tours of sporting arenas and speaking engagements and flashbacks back to the horrors of the taking of the island in full vivid detail.

Flags of our Fathers is an important film, but unfortunately, not a stellar one. The battle scenes are very well done and show the chaotic atmosphere and pace that follows a ground war, but it's the relationship and the manipulation of public interest as used by the media that the movie hits home. In a time where America is fighting two separate wars in Afghanistan and Iraq with veterans of Vietnam still being paraded on CNN every evening news to discuss comparisons, Flags of our Fathers is important in that it shows how a single picture or event can change an entire opinion over an effort that will cost young men and women their lives.

But where Eastwood fails is in his attempt to drum up any emotional attachment to the three characters. Haggis does his Crash best to have us 'tisk' at the consistent barrage of racial epithets thrown towards Indian descent Ira Hayes, but Eastwood fails to weave this sympathy and the sympathy for those left behind on the beach into an emotional punch that will carry us to the voting polls in the awards season.

The biggest disappointment with Flags of our Fathers comes with the expectation that the three major players in the production bring to the table. Eastwood in particular has stemmed together three recent films – The Forgiven, Mystic River and Million Dollar Baby – that each dealt with a person of persons dealing with the emotional weight of violence that they were witness. The heavy handedness of Flags of our Fathers should be right up his wheelhouse. Add the brilliant writing experience and resume of Haggis and the movie should have been celluloid gold. Instead, we deal with waving veterans, moments of tenderness between the soldiers and the families of the dead they fought beside and the emotional burden of the horrors that surrounded them in combat without any tear tugging or tissue pulling on behalf of the experiencing movie watcher.

Flags of our Fathers was shot back-to-back with Letters from Iwo Jima which will shows the Japanese perspective of the battle and is scheduled for release in February 2007. While watching Flags of our Fathers, there are a few scenes that you can imagine being in the next years release and maybe that is where Eastwood and the gang lost their focus.

So why does Flags of our Fathers still get 3 ½ stars even though the comments seem so negative? Well, it is because what the film does right, it does extremely well. During the battle scenes you are transported to Iwo Jima and the chaos of the situation can be felt in how you inch towards the edge of your seats. The acting too is better than average, especially from Phillippe who might find himself along side wife Reese Witherspoon as an awards nominee come Christmas. Couple these pluses with the importance of revealing a true and important story to the mass audiences and the obvious comparisons with American war efforts at the time of print, and you have a film that will undoubtedly become one of Eastwoods most talked about films. Even if it wasn't one of his best.
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Deeply Moving
lisa_ann_sanders24 October 2006
I can't recall the last time a movie moved me the way this film did. Clint Eastwood presents an honest portrait of war (the beauty of brotherhood, the horror of literally walking through death, the pain of dealing with survival). The images made me feel like I was getting a real glimpse at the lives of the men who served during WWII. The actors more then carried their own weight. They made you understand these were not characters they were acting out, they were representing real men. To often today war movies are used to actively promote war or to demonize it. I appreciated that this film let me make up my own mind. "Flags of Our Fathers" is a movie that will stay with you. Isn't that what great movies are supposed to do? This film reminds you why movies are important.
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On February 23, 1945, an insignificant event became one of the most significant events of World War II.
kerr-g14 October 2006
"Flags of Our Fathers" is the story of the five Marines and one Navy Corpsman who raised a replacement flag on a stinking little island six-hundred miles south of Tokyo. An Associated Press photographer, who wasn't ready and was caught off guard, snapped a picture of them raising this seemingly unimportant second flag. He had no idea what he had just done.

That one picture is said to be the most reproduced picture in the history of photography.

I toured Iwo Jima in 2000 with my father, a private in the 5th Marine Division, who, along with the flag raisers, landed on Iwo Jima on February 19, 1945 -- the opening day of what would be the costliest battle in the history of the U.S. Marine Corps.

I can't say enough good things about the realism of Clint Eastwood's "Flags of our Fathers." Visually, the movie made me think that I was back on Iwo Jima, and emotionally, I felt like I was witnessing what I had been told by Iwo survivors and what I had read in Richard E. Overton's "God Isn't Here: A Young American's Entry into World War II and His Participation in the Battle for Iwo Jima."

James Bradley's book "Flags of our Fathers," is wonderful, and this movie of the same name is very faithful to his book.

But, the editing of the movie takes the viewer through so many flash-backs and flash-forwards that it's hard to keep things straight -- even if you have read the book!

The movie opens with Harve Presnel (I think it was Harve) playing the role of what I thought was a narrator. Later, it looks like he's just one of many people that James Bradley interviewed for his book.

I was expecting some corny things in the movie, like seeing the flag raising picture taking up the full screen in the theater while the Marine Corps Hymn played. That didn't happen. After I heard what I thought was a narrator, I thought that anyone who didn't know what was going on in the movie would probably be kept informed of the not-so-obvious things . . . like it was Howlin' Mad Smith who was demanding, and not getting, additional bombardment of the island; like it was Secretary of the Navy, James Forrestal, who told Howlin' Mad Smith that "...the raising of that flag on Suribachi means a Marine Corps for the next five hundred years." These events were in the movie, but the characters were neither introduced by name in the movie, nor were they described by "the narrator," who seemed to come and go at odd times.

Ira Hayes is a tragic character. It's obvious that Hollywood likes tragic characters just because of all of the attention that he gets in this movie, and because Tony Curtis made a movie about Ira Hayes back in 1961. The actor who plays Ira in this movie is great!

Stephen Spielberg and Clint Eastwood obviously had to tap dance around an "Elephant in the Room" when it came to showing what happened to John Bradley's friend on Iwo Jima. If you've read the book, you know what happened. The movie does a masterful job of bringing the subject up, but not bringing it up in a manner that would offend the squeamish, or, for that matter, bringing it up in a way that would make it impossible to show the movie to a Japanese audience.
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another nomination for Clint
DCJerzeygrl19 October 2006
A great film showing war as it was, and is: ugly, frantic, corporate, confusing, frustrating and very sad. Soldiers accompany their friends into horrific situations with terrible consequences. Ryan Phillippe, Adam Beach & Jesse Bradford are WONDERFUL. Paul Walker did not suck. Neal McDonough & Barry Pepper are great (pepper is older but still hot...fell in love with his bible-quoting sniper in SPRyan). Paul Haggis re-wrote the screenplay, which I really enjoyed. The music is haunting as done by Clint, as well as his son Kyle. Please don't leave when the lights go up. B&W photos of the real people this film was based on are shown during the credits. I will see this film quite a few more times.
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Flags of Our Fathers
dallen0034 October 2006
Warning: Spoilers
This is an honest forthright portrayal of an important historical and cultural event. Mystic River garnered a lot of acclaim but I hated the film. While Flags appears choppy as it sets the stage, Eastwood manages to bring the story full circle giving it a sense of closure. This closure is a pleasant surprise in an era of empty Hollywood films. This is a much richer and more powerful movie experience than River or many of the Hollywood issue films. People of all ages should see the film but a powerful movie for children to see with their parents, especially their fathers. My dad is a veteran of the Korean War and my father-in-law fought in WWII. Unlike many war films, this film carries a sense of hope in a world of chaos. It is a tribute to all our veterans; yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
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Lack of focus can ruin a movie
rijo7222 October 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I gave Flags of our Fathers 3 stars for an authentic period piece, but that's all. I love war movies because I love history, and history, unfortunately, is a record of mankind's wars. I am also a disabled vet, and I am interested in the many perspectives on war and soldiering that have come out of Hollywood. I thought Saving Private Ryan was the high-water mark of Hollywood war movies. Unfortunately, Flags of our Fathers was everything Saving Private Ryan was not. First, Eastwood and Haggis failed to give the audience a character or characters we could sympathize or identify with, even the very compelling character of Ira Hayes. None of the quality actors involved in this movie had a chance to make their characters seem real because of the jerky, cut and splice sequences from the battle scenes to the bond tour to present time and other unknown times in between. For most of the movie, I didn't know who most of the characters were either in real life or in the movie. Second, the computer generated battle scenes of Iwo Jima were ... well, obviously computer generated. Third, the music score, which is crucial to mood and movement of a war movie, was actually a distraction to the movie. Fourth, Eastwood and Haggis constantly digressed away from the tag-line of movie with so many plots and sub-plots that at the end of the movie, I was mentally exhausted and just wanted the movie to be over. Fifth, the war gore in Flags of our Fathers seemed to be more gratuitous than realistic, like a bad frat-house Halloween party. And finally, Eastwood and Haggis seemed to have had a political ax to grind and sacrificed some historical accuracy including the deaths of two of the flag raisers and Ira Hayes, who didn't die in a farm yard on a sunny day. Apparently, I'm not the only one who will not recommend this movie to others. My wife and I went on a Saturday night at a prime time showing, and even though the theater complex was as crowded as usual, the theater for Flags of our Fathers was barely half full and most of them were over age 60. And of this group, there was very little comment, positive or negative, at the end of the movie.
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There are no heroes in war
polar244 January 2007
Clint Eastwood is currently undergoing a renaissance in film-making. In Hollywood, he is one of the most surprising, challenging and honest filmmakers today. Therefore it was with great curiosity when he announced that he would tell the story about the battle on the island of Iwo Jima, February 1945.

The main theme of the story is what makes a hero? Do they exist in war? Eastwood examines this theory in the battle of Iwo Jima. A flag is raised on top of Mount Suribachi that signifies peace and an end to the war. A photo is taken, and it is a symbol of freedom.

The story exists on several levels. There is the battle on Iwo Jima, told in flashbacks, the reception of the three main characters - John Bradley, Rene Gagnon, and Ira Hayes - and the recollection of these memories in present day to James Bradley.

In the story of Iwo Jima, we see the battle through the soldiers eyes. They set out for the island in their buoyant, expectant spirits. We face their anticipation once they touch down on the beach. And we are unsettled when we realise in war, things don't always go to plan. In fact does the "good" side win, furthermore do they exist?

Running concurrently to the account of the battle on Iwo Jima, the three "heroes" of the flag raising are welcomed back home as heroes. Do they deserve such a title? In fact they say they do not. Who has the right to be a hero and what kinds of power do they have? The war had long lasting effects for all of them, sometimes it was the memories that destroyed the men.

The third strand exists in the present day. James Bradley is the author of the book on which the film is based. He is listening to accounts of the battle from war veterans. His father John, played by Ryan Phillipe, was in the battle and forms most of the flashbacks that tell of the combat on the island. We already learn much from history and past evils that it is impossible not to appreciate the power we have today to ensure peace and economic stability in the world.

Because the film is told in flashback, some viewers may find the non-linear structure unsettling and disorienting. The process of deciphering what we see on screen is meant to emulate the way our memory is structured. Just as John Bradley finds it difficult to relive the atmosphere of Iwo Jima due to traumatic experiences, we have to question, what effect does war have on people many years later? Does it change into the person we have become? And how do we live with ourselves after experiencing horror of the worst kind?

The acting is admirable all around: Ryan Phillipe creates a honourable figure persevering throughout war time while his friends fall away. Jesse Bradford copes best after the war but fame is short-lived. And Adam Beach is a man tormented by the effect of war; a man who has lost his personal identity. He struggles with the concept of "we are what we do".

Eastwood's direction is outstanding. He has managed to create a film that makes no judgments, preserves the integrity of these people yet examines their life in war. The screenplay by previous collaborator Haggis, is insightful, thought-provoking and poignant. He takes no simple sides on the good and bad of war but meditates on what it means to the individual. How does a country sustain itself during war. Can a war be entirely truthful?

He finds shapes and patterns in war, that suggest the uncertainty of battle, the serenity of the landscape, and the meaning of victory. The music scored by Eastwood is heartfelt, non-intrusive yet elicits shades of heroism and hope. The use of lighting in the film suggest different ways of looking at the battlefield.

The scenes involving "the three" when they return home are heartbreaking. To protect the identity of their fallen mates, they are forced bend the truth to their parents and the public. People are willing to accept heroes but only under fanfare and while they are still the flavour of the month. Ira Hayes' fall as a hero fades as quickly as his life situation.

It is absolutely refreshing to hear from Eastwood his reflections on war without resorting to boisterous patriotism or feel-good sentimental endings. Such is his take on this turning point in war history, that the film is not primarily about the war, but the effects of it on those who served. We discover there are no heroes. The final scene is a revival on the idea of war and this great American director. This one stayed with me for a long time.
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Exceptional film
julien-5217 October 2006
I was hesitant to see this because I figured it would be a patriotic appeal for war. What I found was very surprising. First of all, I commend the writer and filmmaker for having a Native American as one of the main characters. Navajo codetalkers were instrumental in our success, but few movies have even mentioned them. In fact, the John Woo film focused more on Nicolas Cage's character than the always excellent Adam Beach. In Flags of Our Fathers, we see how the war has impacted the lives of three men. The most touching story was Ira Hayes, played by Beach. I think he should win an Oscar for his portrayal. He conveyed much more warmth and had much more depth than the other "leads." Even though the narrative was indeed disjointed, if you have the attention span, you can figure it out. Even though the film was two and one-half hours, it didn't feel like it. I found the story very compelling, and a refreshing antidote to a lot of the war films we see. No matter which side you fight on, war is not kind, and Eastwood depicts that well. Overall, a fine effort from all involved.
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Really wanted to like this one too
dgl11992 March 2007
Like many others I was looking forward to this film. Not so much as a remake of the battle of Iwo Jima but as a more humanistic examination of the lives of the men who fought and survived it. But what I assumed to be an interesting and thought provoking story, centering around the survivors of Joe Rosenthal's famous Suribachi photo, turned out to be a real let down. I guess my real problem with the film is that it didn't know what it wanted to be; was it a war film or a drama or a commentary on the ugliness of wartime politics or what? It bounced around so much it was at times difficult to watch. The battle scenes were very well done yet no sooner are we drawn in then Eastwood cuts away to another place and we have no idea where we are, why we are here, or who these people are. The characters were all a little two dimensional and wooden. I don't think it's because they're bad actors, I just think Eastwood didn't focus on them very hard. And that's the point. This movie lacks focus. This movie is in fact all over the place. It could have pinpointed any one of dozens of interesting subjects it touched upon yet it seems Clint wanted to cram in as much as he could. The stories of the three men paraded around the country selling war bonds was more of a backdrop, but to what I'm not sure, rather then the centerpiece of this narrative. Truth be told their tale, as told here, was not all that interesting or compelling. What we got was a jumbled, often confusing, poorly implemented story about real people and real events that didn't get the justice they deserved in this one. A real missed opportunity.
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Clint lets us down (I hope Letters from Iwo Jima will be BETTER)
maddonabox26 December 2006
I love Clint Eastwood. Mystic river, Million dollar baby, Bridges over Madison County, In the line of fire, The unforgiven... he's a legendary film maker.

I just saw Flags 2 hours ago, mainly because of the prestige of being called "a Clint Eastwood" movie. I have never been so disappointed of Clint my whole life. While I was sitting there in the movie theater, I remembered several boards / threads here on IMDb wherein a reviewer would emphasize how bad a movie was by saying that he "looked at his watch every 10 minutes" or that he "left the cinema after 30 minutes of viewing". One hour into the movie, I began to notice that people were really starting to get off their seats and head for the exits. Around 2/3 of the people watching this movie left. Knowing that it was premiere night here in Oslo, Norway, I knew that the people who went to see it this particular day were really expecting something and not your average moviegoer who's there because there ain't anything else to watch.

The battle scenes never really drew in the audience. They were just firing their rifles and canons, blowing stuff up, lots of guys got killed and that's it! It never manages to "suck in" the viewers into making them believe for a while that they are a part of what's going on. Saving Private Ryan is a superb example of this. I was not expecting the film makers to exaggerate certain scenes to make it more interesting or to make up stuff up that would add gore to the movie, but Flags was just as boring as the Da Vinci code at times.

Then we have the trio who gets back to the states as heroes. I know that this movie was made to be as authentic as to real events, but how it was told was sooo BORING that even I WAS LOOKING AT MY WATCH, WAITING FOR IT TO END. Ira drinks, Ira cries, they go to a place and ask people to buy bonds, Ira drinks, Ira cries about them not being heroes, Ira drinks some more, they die. And in the end it all turns into some kind of Disney family drama, with fathers apologizing to their sons how they could have been more around for them before. It was terrible.

I hope Letters from Iwo Jima will be better.
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Poor story telling
pine8111 March 2008
The whole movie was a big disappointment.

The whole war seemed to be against 10-20 men (except the island bombing scene) Men taking hits seem like there is only a handful of Japanese/Americans on the whole island. It just wasn't believable and it ruined the movie along with being too superficial.

The most annoying thing about this movie was the constant jumping in timeline, which made no sense to me and just confused me even more by introducing new characters constantly. I had no idea who was who and why he was introduced on the screen.

As a movie, this just was bad story telling. If it just would have held a sane perspective, I might have enjoyed it.

If the point of the movie was to tell about the flag and the symbolism of it, the movie makes no justice to it.
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Another update of a great old movie
jon-weiss14 November 2006
"Flags of our Fathers" is nothing more than an cinematic modernization of the old Tony Curtis Movie of 1961 "The Outsider". Nothing new here except to put the special effects style of Saving Private Ryan into a movie that retells the story originally told in 1961. The acting is OK in the newer version but nothing to compare with Tony Curtis' portrayal of Ira Hayes. This seems to be a Hollywood trend with movies remaking old ones telling the same story with new technology, others include "Munich" originally told through the film "Sword Of Gideon", and "Flyboys" originally "Hells's Angels" But then originality hasn't been Hollywood's strong point for a long time, as evidenced by their movie productions of so many 1960's era comic book heros turned movie subjects.
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Boring waste of time
Ata-21 January 2007
This movie is a set of flash-backs to the battle at Iwo Jima by the men who raised the US flag on the island and whose sacrifice was captured as one of the most famous and enduring photographs of the war. By all accounts what happened at Iwo Jima would make the D-Day landings portrayed in Saving Private Ryan look like a walk in the park. So how can you possibly make that boring? The whole movie seems focused on the fact that the people captured in the photograph were not the first people to raise the flag, and this somehow makes what happened in Iwo Jima a great deception. What the heck does it matter who raised the flag? Thats like saying the most important thing about the atomic weapons dropped on Japan was who painted them, or that the key point about the Declaration of Independence is what ink it was written in.

Watching this movie was an interesting learning experience for me since I realized why so many soldiers died in these battles. If this was an accurate portrayal then obviously during the second world war soldiers had serious difficulties taking cover or ducking when being shot at. I guess they were told to just jog along in open country while under fire to make better targets.

Apart from the idiotic premise and the mostly silly battle scenes the reason this movie was boring is because we do not get to know the characters to any extent to actually care whether they live or die. What I found extremely poor was how the flash-backs were done. In Catch 22, the movie that the creators were clearly aspiring to, Yossarian has the same flash-back over and over again and each time we get to see more of what happened until at last we see the harrowing scene it was all leading up to. Well they try that here but they screw it up royally.

I am really disappointed in Eastwood and Haggis because I was very much looking forward to, and fully expecting, something very special. I remember Sydney Pollack said in an interview after a screening of They Shoot Horses, that as an actor and a director he is in pursuit of showing the core truth of a thing. There is a truth behind what happened at Iwo Jima, and this is definitely not it.
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What a huge disappointment
bauer3230121 October 2006
I was really looking forward to this movie and was severely disappointed in it. There is absolutely no story in Flags of our Fathers. If you've seen the previews, then you've seen the movie, because not much else happens. Some guys raise a flag, picture becomes famous, they go home to help raise money...that's it. The rest of the movie is just waiting for the credits to come up. The characters have no journey no conflict, they are just basically existing...which isn't very interesting. You can argue that the conflict was that they were just kids and were uneasy with being labeled heroes, but after you get that message there's not much else this movie has to say. It just repeats that message over and over and over again. Other movies have taken the same theme and done a much much better job. There is no culmination of events, there's no resolution, it's just a giant waste of time. The battle scenes were Saving Private Ryan wannabe's and seemed to just be thrown together with very little thought and in no discernible order. Every time a battle scene/flashback occurred you were basically just waiting to see which one of the faceless, nameless, GIs was going to be killed next. The editing was atrocious cutting from current times to bond drive to battle to post battle to pre battle and back to bond drive for no purpose other than to try and make a movie that has no story, seem to have a story. I cared nothing for the characters, they were just empty shells with nothing to say or do but look scared and get blown to bits. And then the ending third of the movie seemed like an after thought and totally useless, like the filmmakers suddenly realized they haven't bored us enough and needed some more useless, unimaginative, uninteresting, drab filler. The racism inflicted upon the Native American character was heavy handed and unconvincing. It made you roll your eyes in astonishment at the cheesiness of it, rather than feeling any emotion towards the character.

Very very disappointing. I'm amazed that it is getting such kind reviews. Windtalkers was better than this movie, and Windtalkers was terrible!
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Waste of time...
doe_sah7 February 2007
I had high expectations for this movie and had a hold on it at the video store. Maybe I expected too much from Clint Eastwood, but this pretty is in line with all of his other movies (i.e., slow, lack of action, and unnecessary flashbacks). The overall premise has great potential, but Eastwood does not engage the viewer at all!! Two people in the room fell asleep after 1 hour.

The movie does not go into depth about each character, but superficially touches each one. I got confused to whom the narrator was referring to. Also, it does not do justice to what the marines of the US truly faced when they landed on the island. It does not depict the fight for every inch of space on a cramped island or the harsh conditions on foreign soil.

This movie does not do justice to the true fighting on Iowa Jima. I would not waste your time with this movie.
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Dude, this movie sucked
FlyingZombo22 October 2006
I consider myself a fan of war movies. That's why I was plenty happy enough to go and see "Flags of Our Fathers". So you can understand how thoroughly disappointed I was when I walked out of the theater. Clint Eastwood is a decent director (not the greatest, as the academy seems to think), but this movie, to me, was below decent. I found the acting to be very questionable. They all seemed to have one emotion, which they kept through the entire movie. But I suppose you can connect that in part to the writers. War movies are usually meant to be emotional, and usually you're meant to care about the characters in it. The amazing thing is that I didn't give a crap about any of these characters. Although it might have helped a bit more if the battle scenes were a bit more exciting. Yeah, that's right, the battle scenes were boring. And the times I found myself even remotely interested in what was happening, the scenes looked like something right out of "Saving Private Ryan" (seriously, watch the beach landing and tell me you were shocked that Tom Hanks didn't come running out). At least in "Ryan" I was on the edge of my seat the entire time. In this one, you're not once wondering what's going to happen next. Another thing about this movie is Paul Walker. Okay, so maybe he isn't A-list, but I wouldn't necessarily call him B-list. So you'd expect somebody like him to get a bigger part. In truth, his part is really small, and would have been better filled by somebody lesser known. What really makes me angry is the fact that the academy is probably going to love this, and it'll probably get a bunch of Oscar nods. It doesn't deserve a single one. With any luck "Letters from Iwo Jima" will be better. But I'm not holding my breath. 3/10.
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Impressive depiction of war, less successful on an emotional level
Camera-Obscura12 December 2006
Learning that Clint Eastwood teamed up with Steven Spielberg and Paul "Crash" Haggis for this ambitious project about the epic battle for Iwo Jima in the Pacific, I didn't know what to expect. The results are not entirely positive, but the film does offer spectacle of the highest order. The first part is the strongest with grandly filmed battle scenes on the island of Iwo Jima (filmed on the volcanic wastelands of Iceland), which constitutes some very intense film-making, impressively filmed and nearly on par with the battle scenes in SAVING PRIVATE RYAN. In the second part we get to see the men who raised the famous flag on a tour at home to raise money for the necessary war bonds, although the occasional flashback takes us back to the battlefield.

I must admit, this one has elements of greatness in almost every department, but somehow these don't quite glue together as intended. The film seems to suffer from three evenly strong-handed approaches. The script by Paul Haggis eagerly wants to take us on an emotional roller-coaster in the second half, where the focus increasingly shifts to the story of Ira Hayes in the aftermath of the battle. There's obviously a strong hand of Steven Spielberg, who always wants to show us the human side of the story, which Clint obviously wants too, but he tends to do it in a different way. There seems to be a clash of wills, with these three major forces at work here. Ultimately, FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS is not about the war proceedings itself, but how the war affected the men who fought in it themselves, and how they refused to be seen as heroes.

It's hard to dislike any of Clint Eastwood's films and with this one, and the follow-up LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA, he made two films of epic proportions, that will undoubtedly compete for the Oscars. Both of the films that is, as they were released by different distributors, "Flags" is with Dreamworks and "Letters" with Warner Brothers.

We'll see, so far, so good. I wasn't blown away by this one, but certainly a film to respect. Difficult to judge this, before seeing the follow-up LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA, which shows the Japanese perspective of the story. I strongly suspect Clint saved the best for last and that "Letters" will be his ultimate showcase.

Camera Obscura --- 7/10
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The Hero Illusion
Chrysanthepop1 September 2009
Haggis, Eastwood and Spielberg team up to tell a less known but poignant story about 6 soldiers who were the second flag-raisers of Iwo Jima and how an event that does not seem so significant is captured on photo and becomes one of the most crucial events in America during WWII. Having always admired Eastwood for tackling complex subjects, he does a wonderful job of telling an event that is not known to many. He captures the time period well on screen.

The war sequences are skillfully executed. It reminds me of the early sequences of 'Saving Private Ryan' as its shot with washed out colours and the scenes are just as visceral and hard-hitting. They are extremely effective as are the scenes where the three survivors are being paraded by officers in order to sell military bonds. The real truth is ignored, the illusion of a photo is confirmed as truth, the three soldiers are burning in the inside while obliged to parade themselves and then they are left with nothing, just memories of the war. Eastwood has also briefly but effectively tackled the racism theme. Even the label of a hero was not enough for Hayes to get a drink at a bar.

Haggis's writing is solid. War isn't glorified and the aftereffects are shown with subtlety rather than blatant preaching. The editing is tight as the movie flows at a smooth pace. It starts off with the war sequences and then follows the three surviving flag-raisers revisiting the war in flashbacks. Eastwood's soundtrack is intense and gives voice to the unspoken words. All the performances are good but it is Jesse Bradford, Adam Beach and Ryan Phillipe who stand out as the three survivors, particularly Phillipe who is restrained.

'Flags of Our Fathers' an important side of the war that almost vanished into oblivion but thanks to Eastwood and his team, many people today will know about it.
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Exciting and historical movie about Iwo Jima battle and the three famous flag raising survivors on Mount Suribachi
ma-cortes17 November 2008
This excellent film deals the Iwo Jima battle and the three survivors of the notorious flag raising on mount Suribachi. This is a flag-waving and patriotic tribute to U.S. Marines and experiences of three soldiers after US took Iwo Jima from the Japanese. A photograph of this act appeared in 'Life' magazine and immediately caught the imagination of the nation. Very decent war scenes that convey us the assault troops establish in the Pacific island. The picture bring to life one of the famous images of the WWII, Joe Rosenthal's photography of US marines raising the flag at Iwo Jima, on the morning of February 23,1945 .The three living survivors of the historic flag raising are Rene Cagnon(Jesse Bradford), John Bradley(Ryan Phillippe)who attempted his best to forget everything about his existence on Iwo Jima where his best pal was captured and tortured to death and the native Ira Hayes. The Indian Hayes suffered post-traumatic stress and his life was disintegrated as he utilized alcohol to attempt to cope his fame, he seemed to to alternate among despising his war experience and relishing it. Interesting fact is the real-life Marines appeared in 'Sand of Iwo Jima' by Allan Dawn with John Wayne, as the three marines who raise the flag at Mount Suribachi went to each man and said that other who had agreed to make it. The three reunited and put in their few days on the set, appeared as themselves in the film, but they conned into making it. The three protagonists actors are top-notch with special mention to Adam Beach as Ira Hayes(whose life was acted by Tony Curtis in 'The outsider,1961,'directed by Delbert Mann), a deranged native-American soldier . The movie is a sensible commemoration to United States Marine Corps whose exploits and valor have left a lasting impression of the world and the hearts of their countrymen. It is enshrined in stone as a monument in Washington D.C. near Arlington cemetery.

The motion picture is very well realized by Clint Eastwood and lavishly produced by Steven Spielberg. Perfect trio starring,Phillippe,Bradford and Beach and extraordinary secondary cast as Robert Patrick, Neal McDonough,Harve Presnell,Jamie Bell,Barry Pepper, Paul Walker and David Patrick Kelly as President Truman, among others. Evocative and colorful cinematography by Tom Stern. Perceptible and feeling musical score by Eastwood. Spectacular production design by Henry Bumstead in his last film , he worked for Alfred Hitchcock and Eastwood's habitual.

Adding more details along with the largely described on the movie, the deeds happened of the following way: Iwo Jima battle was a hard-fought US operation, but like the navy, the Us army fought its way from island to island in the Pacific and was one of the most difficult campaign of the Pacific theater. US capture of Japanese-held island in Bonin group about 1450 miles south of Tokio and under command of general Kuribayashi. Fortified by the Japanese with 1500 underground posts, it held two airfields, with a third under construction and was a valuable strategic target for US forces as it would provide a base for land-based 2221 bombers to raid mainland of Japan. After a tense fighting Feb-March 1945 , it was assaulted by US marines 19 Feb 1945 after a prolonged air and naval bombardment. The 22000 Japanese troops put up a fanatical resistance but the island was finally secured 10 March. US casualties came to 6891 killed and 18700 wounded, while only 212 of the Japanese garrison survived.
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Grade A sleeping pill
fisk-223 December 2006
I had such great expectations for this movie. Clint Eastwood made such an awesome job on his last movie, and I figured he would with this one too. But boy was I wrong.

The shots in this movie are repeated again and again, making it very repetitive to watch, and the asynchonous script makes it more confusing than interesting to watch. Especially as the same scenes (again) are re-used.

I don't know how many times it's reiterated in this movie: "I never wanted to be a hero", but it's said as many times as many of the same shots are re-used.

Clint Eastwood must think little of his audience, since he needs to repeat things so many times over. "Flag raising didn't mean nothing to him, but it sure meant a lot to them", and other clichés are repeated like broken records.

Then there's the length of the movie, it feels like something you watched in school during a boring history class, failing to get to the point. Or rather, repeating the same point over and over again, because the picture has little more purpose than to say anything beyond the obvious.

You don't care about the characters of this movie, despite they try to convey the typical sob-story of war-movies like this. Somehow drama has been taken out of it, and Flags of our Fathers has become the metaphorical equivalent of setting up a camera filming paint drying.

During the last part of the film, I feel like going to bed more than anything, because it does one thing good; make me want to sleep.

Poor Iggy, I collapsed sleeping while waiting for the end-titles.
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A Nutshell Review: Flags of Our Fathers
DICK STEEL30 November 2006
I nodded in agreement when it was mentioned a single photo taken during combat has the power to make or break a war. At a time when the war chest is drained and the battle seemed to be drawn out longer than expected, you need public support to cough out funds and make donations to the manufacturing of arms. In the dying days of WWII, that photo you see above, gave reason to galvanize the American public into making donations for that final push. Now think Abu Graib. Nuff said, on its adverse impact to the war machinery.

For WWII movies, the Pacific theatre has arguably fewer number of films made by the West, especially those whose focus is on the ground troops, as compared to the European theatre, and possibly could be due to the availability of locales, as well as budget and (non) permission to film at the actual place. The Iwo Jima here is a substitute backdrop, not the real Iwo Jima with black beaches that you can see right after the end credits roll, as if in silent meditation of the soldiers on both sides who had given up their lives fighting for their cause.

And the Battle of Iwo Jima had its historical significance given it's the first landing of Allied troops on Japanese soil, and one of the bloodiest yet with high casualties on both sides. It also opened up the American eyes to the tenacity of the Japanese troops and their relentless defence of the homeland from invasion, in a Digital Domain CGI-created massive naval beach landing. Those looking for recreated battle scenes will probably not be disappointed with the level of detail shown in Flags, like the weapons, and the infamous use of flamethrowers to smoke out hidden troops in bunkers.

But this movie is not an all out action film. It's not a macro look at how the Allies secured their first foothold in Japanese soil. Rather, it takes a very personal look at the surviving men who hoisted the American flag over a prominent knoll in Iwo Jima. While there are countless of versions of the circumstances surrounding this lifting of a symbol, be it for morale boosting purpose, or politics, or for abstract ideals like hope, the definitive version as recounted in this story is actually quite ordinary, fueled by a mix of human desire for something monumental, as well as the listening to orders to a T.

Told in a non linear fashion with flashbacks and voiceovers, it is extremely difficult that you'll be bored by the movie, unless your expectations have been set the wrong way. There is plenty of material and themes that the movie touched upon, although it can be argued that each doesn't necessarily have enough focus, issues like racism and prejudice. What makes this film compelling is the story of the survivors, being whisked back to the States to be part of propaganda to raise funds. Accuracy and accountability take the backseat against the hail of heroism, and it evolves very quickly into a media circus.

Flags examines the lives of those in the photo who survived the battle, their reluctance to be called heroes, the demons that they faced while on the battlefield, the constant reminder to kill or be killed, the lies they have to tell to sell, and their sense of morality sacrificed for the lesser of two evils. Being soldiers, they have to do listen to orders, even if at the moment, it sounds absurd (I believe those who have been through service in the armed forces will agree on this). It is the conflict, and the need to lie through their teeth, which makes it all the more a sorrowful struggle, especially when you have to deny a fellow brother his moment of recognition, and denying his family the need for closure.

And of course, we all know how fickle the press can be. On one hand they can praise you, on the other, someone's always looking at ways to demean and cast doubts. Flavours of the moment, potshots of controversy like whether the picture was staged, ring to mind that icons can never escape from the cynical eye. Politicians, rich businessmen and the military brass too are cast in none too positive light, as they get portrayed as men who like association with power, fame, and glory.

Clint Eastwood again never ceases to amaze me. Here's the star of spaghetti westerns, Dirty Harry himself, who has aged but still showing no signs of slowing down. Like fine wine, he has started to show his talents in the films he makes, and award winning critically acclaimed ones too. But what I'm really pleasantly and thoroughly enjoyed, is the score that he wrote for Flags. It's restrained, yet powerful, kept simple in instrument, yet never lacking in grandeur. Being a filmmaker is one thing, but having contribute to a highly effective score complimenting the movie, is another. Not many can do that.

Flags of Our Fathers is a must watch, and I'm already eagerly anticipating the companion movie, with viewpoints from the Japanese, fighting the same war, in Letters From Iwo Jima, and it should be equally powerful.
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