Edge

Legendary Eastwood takes a heartfelt, unique angle on the typical war-film

“Letters from Iwo Jima” is Clint Eastwood’s companion film to “Flags of Our Fathers”, which told the story of the flag raising at Iwo Jima that changed the face of the war entirely. This time around, Eastwood examines the war from the perspective of America’s enemy, the Japanese. In doing so, he manages to inspire sympathy and understanding. In many ways, it’s the better of the two films. “Letters” is mostly told from the perspective of a young soldier named Saigo (Kazunari Ninomiya), whose indifference and general animosity towards the war helps reinforce the film’s anti-war agenda, which is simply that war can bring no good, no matter what the situation and regardless of who’s involved. Saigo’s main concern may not be for the war, but for the safety of his wife and unborn child. We see Saigo write endless letters to his wife, knowing that most of them will probably never reach her.

Saigo and his fellow troops are lead by General Tadamichi Kuribayashi (Ken Watanabe). The general is a man who prides himself in honoring his country. While Kuribayahsi’s intelligence is what makes him a great general, it’s his selflessness that makes him a good man. Like Saigo, Kuribayashi finds comfort in writing home to his wife, expressing not his disdain for the war he is in the middle of but instead his concern for the type of everyday affairs that his wife and his lives would normally revolve around, such as remodeling their kitchen.

Ken Watanabe, who plays Kuribayashi, gives the best performance of his career in this role. He shows he has the ability to appear as a character rather than an actor playing a character. Ninomiya, who plays Saigo, also gives an outstanding performance, playing the fragile yet determined and dedicated Saigo.

As for the direction, Eastwood shows restraint and confidence, often letting the camera hold on the smooth, black sulfur terrain of the island; allowing our eyes to fixate on it, to dwell on the price of war. It’s the restraint that was missing from “Flags” that makes “Letters” so rich and riveting.

The writing, by newcomer Iris Yamashita, based on the book “Picture Letters from Commander in Chief” by Tadamichi Kuribayashi and Tsuyoko Yoshido, is heartfelt, showing us a side of war we haven’t explored before.

Eastwood, who has now directed 28 films, has made quite a career for himself. In the past 3 years, he’s won two Oscars (both for “Million Dollar Baby”) and has received numerous accolades. He has become a master of cinema, allowing his talent to age with grace. Now, with “Letters”, there’s a good chance he’ll be accepting another Oscar to go along with the Golden Globe he’s already won for this powerful and introspective account of war.

Danny Gordon can be contacted at d.gordon@umiami.edu.

January 23, 2007

Reporters

The Miami Hurricane

Student newspaper at the University of Miami


Around the Web
  • Miami Herald
  • UM News
  • HurricaneSports

It's almost summer, time for college football players to wind down and chill out — every now an ...

More than a decade after former University of Miami football star Sean Taylor was murdered during a ...

Lonnie Walker excelled on the court during the NBA Combine in Chicago last week. The potential lotte ...

Athlon Sports released its projections for the 2018 college football season Monday. The predictions ...

Here is some impressive news for the University of Miami football program: All but one of the remain ...

Voters head to the polls in a historic election to choose the country’s next president. ...

From boathouse to marine research powerhouse, the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Scienc ...

A snapshot guide to the start of summer in and around UM. ...

Former investment banker Charmel Maynard leads UM’s investments and treasury functions. ...

Over his more than two decades at the U, the dean of students from 1976-1989 always put students fir ...

For the 16th year in a row, the Miami women's tennis team ended the season ranked in the top 20 ...

Ranked and seeded third, Estela Perez-Somarriba of the Miami women's tennis team tallied a 6-3, ...

The Hurricanes will be in action at the 2018 NCAA East Preliminary, scheduled for May 24-26 at the U ...

Hurricanes' programs post strong APR marks once again. ...

No. 7 seed Hurricanes staged a late comeback to win their opening game at the 2018 ACC Championship, ...

TMH Twitter
About TMH

The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.