DVD Review: Letters From Iwo Jima
Finally got around to watching Clint Eastwood's Oscar-nominated film Letters From Iwo Jima tonight. I had wanted to see it in the theater, but it only showed in the artsy-fartsy theater downtown here in the Boise area, and I never got around to it. I wish I had seen it on the big screen.
A lot of the reviews of the film when it came out said that it was a surprisingly powerful "anti-war" film. To me, it wasn't "anti-war"; it was an "anti-suicidal war" picture. The movie, which tells the story of Iwo Jima from the Japanese perspective, shows that there are a lot of similarities between our Japanese adversaries of WWII and our terrorist enemies of today: An "alien" culture that is hard to understand, an eagerness to die for a greater power, no hesitancy to violate the Law of Armed Combat, and a steadfast belief that, all evidence to the contrary, theirs is a holy cause.
Of course, one of the main goals of the movie is to make us realize that our adversaries had (and have) the same dreams, hopes, and fears as we do. Those without military experience seem to have a tendency to believe that American servicepeople don't understand this, but we do. While it makes it easy to think that you're destroying an "aimpoint", or ship, or some other inanimate object, we all know deep down that our enemies are people like ourselves. It may be difficult for us to understand their motivations, but we certainly try -- it makes us more effective in opposing an enemy if we know who they are.
This movie is well worth your time if you want to see a cinematic masterpiece that helps you really understand one of the darker sides of human nature. While Americans have a hard time understanding why someone would give up their life when they have better choices, it's important to know that not everyone thinks like we do. It also provides hope; if we can be good friends with a people against whom we fought an unimaginably vicious war not long ago, maybe in a generation or two we can reach the same understanding with the Muslim world. Letters from Iwo Jima gets 4 starshells out of five.
Update 2021 29 May: The inimitable ninme tried to leave a comment, but for some reason Blogger has a vendetta against her, so she wasn't successful. She was kind enough to E-mail me her questions / comment, however:
Did you see the first one? And if so, do you think the second one stands alone well enough that you can watch it by itself? Cuz I'm not keen on watching the first one, but I am keen on the second.I did see the first one (Flags of our Fathers), but if you haven't seen it, it won't in any way lessen your enjoyment of Letters. The two movies, while covering the same subject, are really independent of one another.