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Letters from Iwo Jima

'LETTERS From Iwo Jima," Clint Eastwood's spare, poetic and remarkable companion piece to "Flags of Our Fathers," is an engrossing and revealing look at that same World War II battle from the Japanese side. The American commanders figured it would take five days to capture Iwo Jima, a barren volcanic island, and make it a beachhead for their final attack on Japan. The Japanese were badly outnumbered, their fleet was destroyed and fighter planes had been redeployed to defend the Mainland. Ammunition and medicine was in short supply, dysentery was raging, morale was low, and the Japanese troops were subsisting on a diet of worms, weed soup and foul water. But the battle rages on for a remarkable six weeks, at a cost of 20,000 Japanese troops; only 136 surrendered to the Allies Directed by Eastwood without a false note, this is a powerful, brilliantly acted film that can stand comparison with "All Quiet on the Western Front" and the works of Kurosawa and Ozu. Based on letters from Kuribayashi - as well as another cache of soldiers' letters discovered on Iwo Jima decades later - the screenplay credited to Iris Yamashita, with some help from Paul Haggis (who wrote "Flags," "Million Dollar Baby" and "Crash'') presents war as a necessary kind of hell in which there are no true victors. "Letters from Iwo Jima" is strikingly photographed in gray tones by Tom Stern and has suitably claustrophobic sets by the late Henry Bumstead. It stands on its own for those who haven't seen "Flags Of Our Fathers," a film with a much bigger sweep. But taken together, Eastwood's masterworks - two of the best films of 2006 - may be Hollywood's last word on World War II.
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Directed by: 
Clint Eastwood
Running Time: 
Ken Watanabe, Kazunari Ninomiya, Tsuyoshi Ihara, Ryo Kase
Screenplay by: 
Iris Yamashita

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