Japanese forces on the island of Iwo Jima prepare for
the Allied invasion and fight to protect their homeland.
Letters from Iwo Jima (2006)
Directed by Clint Eastwood
Written by Iris Yamashita
Starring Ken Watanabe, Kazunari Ninomiya, Tsuyoshi Ihara,
Ryô Kase, Shidô Nakamura, Hiroshi Watanabe
Based on the book Picture Letters from Commander in Chief
by Tadamichi Kuribayashi and Tsuyoko Yoshido
Oscar Wins - Best Sound Editing
Oscar Nominations - Best Picture, Best Director,
Best Original Screenplay
The Battle of Iwo Jima was devastating to the Japanese. It saw Allied forces take control of the decisive island, giving them a base of operations to plan a potential attack on mainland Japan. Of course, the 1945 bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki kept the Allies from invading Japan and the war was over. Being American myself, I never even considered the perspective of the doomed Japanese soldiers on Iwo Jima. Since elementary school, we're taught that during World War II, the Germans and the Japanese were the enemy; heartless bastards who wanted to destroy our freedom. But war is hell to everyone, and there are heroes, villains, and regular people forced into a conflict beyond their comprehension on both sides.
Letters from Iwo Jima shows the battle from the side of the Japanese, who knew they were going to their deaths. Ken Watanabe shines as real-life Japanese General Kuribayashi, who did the best he could to bring honor to his country and his soldiers. Eastwood filmed this back to back with Flags of Our Fathers, which tells the story of the American soldiers who raised the flag during the battle. Strangely, this one was far more successful, both financially and critically. The production design is breathtaking, the performances are incredible, and the Japanese soldiers of World War II are humanized in a way I have never seen before.
This film brings a new perspective on a sweeping American victory during the Second World War. It shows that armies are made up of people, all with their own desires, fears, and stories. Clint Eastwood delivered a home run with this one. It really makes you think about the propaganda we're fed at home. We forget about basic humanity and how these soldiers knew there was no way out, but they fought anyway. I never thought I'd find myself rooting against my own country in a war film.