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54 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Two films, two perspectives, one battle. And what is a hero?
The Iwo Jima double film pack is an absolute bargain and is only one of a very few war films that will show you the battle from the perspectives of the two opposing countries.
Flags Of Our Fathers has been compared to Saving Private Ryan, for good or bad, in truth the film is actually aimed at showing how the "heroes" of Iwo Jima were used by the American government...
Published on 17 July 2007 by Ben Hockin

versus
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Letters From Iwo Jima, Flags Of Our Fathers
"Flags Of Our Fathers" is brought down by a much too crammed, confused script. A rare, introspect view on the often rather superfical american society, it fails to communicate what the book was about, except maybe in the broadest of senses.

In the end I realized I had seen a rather bleak film about a team of soldiers who raised a flag. Their nation was in a war...
Published on 13 April 2011 by Christian Wendt


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54 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Two films, two perspectives, one battle. And what is a hero?, 17 July 2007
The Iwo Jima double film pack is an absolute bargain and is only one of a very few war films that will show you the battle from the perspectives of the two opposing countries.
Flags Of Our Fathers has been compared to Saving Private Ryan, for good or bad, in truth the film is actually aimed at showing how the "heroes" of Iwo Jima were used by the American government to fund the war effort. The action is merely a backdrop to the story of Doc's son finding out about his father, and the history of the symbolic flag raising.
My personal favourite was Letters From Iwo Jima, the film telling the Japanese side of events, it's a harrowing story of how the Japanese garrison were left to wither on the vine by their country. Of how the old Samurai ways of the officers still remained in the twentieth centuries bloodiest conflict, and how even in this hell humanity shines through.
These are not "easy to watch films", at times they are uncomfortable, not because of poor story or direction, but becasue of the content within, because of the pointless waste of life shown.
Worth one watch at least, and a fine addition to anyone's DVD collection.
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36 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Eastwood's best films - one about the battle, one about the postwar, 21 May 2007
By 
Rob (Oxford, UK) - See all my reviews
Flags of Our Fathers took some undeserved flak from a few teenage blowhards & armchair generals because it wasn't the straightforward recounting of the battle of Iwo Jima they imagined. Well it's their loss because seen back to back with its brilliant companion piece, the Japanese language Letters from Iwo Jima, it becomes clear what a twin masterpiece the 77 year old Eastwood has made.

In Fathers the three American flag-raisers come back to the States to be hailed as heroes for having done nothing more than raising a pole. Haunted by horrific memories of combat, surrounded by Government spin that excludes one man who was there & falsely credits another, the Marines just have to bear it as best they can. Eastwood's thoughtful, reflective, melancholy rumination about the gap between combat reality & combat glory is complemented by Letters from Iwo Jima. Evoking amazing emotional power the film takes us deep into the lives of men ranging from a lowly private to a noble General. If Flags was haunted by the sad memories of old men then Letters is all about giving voice to the unknown soldiers sent to their death in a futile cause & denied by their culture even the possibility of surrender.

Both movies are immaculately crafted with memorable performances, beautiful burnished photography that is almost, but not quite, black & white, filled with great scenes both on & off the battlefield & memorable music scores, principally by Eastwood & his son Kyle.

Letters is about the battle & the more emotional of the two as well being the more conventionally told, whilst Flags is about the postwar, is non-linear in it structure & the more intellectual. Both films are less interested in overwhelming the viewer with scenes of battle (although there are astonishingly well done battle scenes in both) than they are in exploring the demands each culture made of its men. Each is impressive on its own but what is so fascinating is that seen back to back they fill in the gaps in the others story & together constitute one of the great cinematic portraits of men in war.
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32 of 35 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Review for "Letters"--I'd suggest getting the four disc edition as the two special editions compliment each other, 21 May 2007
By 
Wayne Klein "If at first the idea is not absu... (My Little Blue Window, USA) - See all my reviews
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A complimentary film to "Flags of Our Fathers", "Letters from Iwo Jima" uses many of the same techniques (including flashbacks during sequences where the soldiers are reading letters from loved ones or where they are thinking of events that occurred prior to their being stationed on the sparsely populated resource poor island) as that film but manages to touch on the personal much better than "Flags". Perhaps its Eastwood's perspective as an outsider to Japanese culture that made him more attuned as a director to these characters in "Letters" either way this film manages to get under the skins of the various characters much more successfully than "Flags" did. Although not as complex in terms of technique, "Letters" is every bit as complex emotionally as its companion piece. Perhaps the less complex storytelling structure allows Eastwood to dig a big deeper under the surface of these characters either way the two films when seen together are much richer than either one alone.

Focusing much of its time on Saigo (Kazunari Ninomiya) a young reluctant recruit and the Japanese Commander Tadamichi Kuribayashi (Ken Watanabe) who must try and hold Iwo Jima with limited resources and no support from Japan, the film tells their desperate attempt to hold the island despite their bleak chances of success at fighting the massive American contingent arriving by sea and air. Eastwood manages to convey the fear, doubt and bravery of these soldiers as they tunnel into the mountainside of Iwo Jima taking an unconventional defense tactic which given the massive forces they face is the only chance that they have for success. Holding out for almost six weeks against superior fire and man power, Kuribayashi and his troops beat the odds putting up a heroic fight against a technological and resource superior adversary. Eastwood doesn't sugar coat the battle or the difficulties that both sides face in either film and doesn't glorify the cost of war. World War II may have been the last noble war that the United States was involved in but that doesn't make the cost of war noble or acceptable. There are always heroes on both sides of the battle regardless of whose ideology was right and on the field of battle there isn't right or wrong--just a desperate attempt to fight for your own survival amid the larger concerns that exist outside a small island in the South Pacific Ocean.

Like "Flags", "Letters" looks extremely good in its transfer to DVD. The muted color scheme and look of the film add to the vividness as well as sense of reality that is essential to recreate the world from 60 plus years ago. Audio brilliantly conveys the ambiance of the island and the heat of battle with well placed sound effects. A warning for those expecting another war film in English--this is presented (with the exception of a few scenes) in Japanese since that's what the soldiers spoke. The film is subtitled in English with Spanish and French subtitles available as well.

Unlike "Flags", "Letters" appears as a "special edition" from the get-go. While we don't get a commentary track (Eastwood has shied away from doing a commentary track for years and its probably just as well since he's a man of few but well chosen words), we get a number of terrific extras on the second disc. "Red Sun, Black Sand: The Making of `Letters from Iwo Jima'" is a terrific documentary on the making of the film allowing Eastwood and his team to discuss what drove them to create this companion piece and the complex challenges of filming two very similar films from different perspectives back-to-back.

"The Faces of War" presents the cast introducing and discussing the characters they play in the film. For me it was the second most interesting extra here since even though familiar with military history often do not see the individual faces of the "enemy". Since history is often written by the victory of any battle, these individuals who fought for their country with as much passion as the Allies did for theirs are often overlooked and forgotten.

Perhaps Eastwood's two epics would have fared better at the Oscars if they had been presented theatrical as one epic film since the two require each other as counterpoints. Either way, the two together have much more impact than either alone although of the two I found "Letters" to be the more compelling piece simply because we saw a side we rarely see if films about World War II focusing on the enemy. Watching the two films back-to-back was an exhausting experience but ultimately more rewarding for me since they dovetail quite nicely in their examination of the personal cost of war on the people who actually fight it and don't glorify the horrors of war. Eastwood continues to show amazing growth and talent as a film director proving that director's careers don't necessarily have to burn brightly and fade away as many of our top talents have.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Steelbook Edition, 15 May 2008
By 
Noel Doran "Noel Doran" (Kilkenny, Ireland) - See all my reviews
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Just to let everyone know that this edition is indeed the 4 Disc Steelbook Edition and that it is at a bargin price. You will not find this cheaper anywhere else.......
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Two views of the same battle. War? No one wins., 15 Nov. 2008
By 
Uncle Barbar (Essex, England) - See all my reviews
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This is really good value for money as a double pack. Both films are worth watching in their own right.

The American view film "Flags of Our Fathers" does have some really good action in it aka "Saving Private Ryan" - just as you'd expect these days. The thing I didn't like was the continuous back-and-throwing from the future look at how these "heroes" got on with regard the famous picture of the soldiers planting the flag, back to the action and then back again. It didn't flow very well for me.

At least it's not a gung-ho look at war which I was thankful for!

The Letters from Iwo Jima I found more satisfying. From the Japanese point of view it appeared more sensitive. Again it doesn't show a pro-war attitude but tries to show that each soldier had a different perspective on the war and his place within it. Should one commit suicide, surrender or carry on fighting when the situation looked futile? This is what the individual soldiers have to decide.

Both thought-provoking films and well worth viewing.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The human cost of war, 17 Dec. 2007
By 
Jason Tsang "RacingGreen" (Kent, UK) - See all my reviews
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I have generally been tough on war films, because they are often sensitive subjects and hard to do well. When I found out about the release of these films and that Clint Eastward is behind them, well then it must be worth watching. Flags of our Fathers & Letters from Iwo Jima are both made to get you thinking. They don't glamourise war, but rather to portray the human cost and the suffering of soldiers. Soldiers that are actually people with feelings and ideals. War is violent and there are bodies blown apart, but the guts and gore have been minimised and only there if it is integral to the plot or storytelling. Some might say they're a bit long at over two hours plus, but I don't agree. You need that amount of time to play the characters out properly. I enjoy it when my mind is exercised this way and Clint Eastward as a director just gets better. Most directors make one movie and tells it from one side. However, Clint Eastward just does it his way and shows it from both sides. I'd give him credit for that, because it worked and they won't be forgotten in a hurry.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The whole is greater than the sum of its parts, 19 Jan. 2009
By 
Bill (Cornwall, UK) - See all my reviews
Yes, 'Letters from Iwo Jima' is probably the more accessible of the two films, but mainly because it is less sprawling and more tightly-knit than 'Flags of our Fathers'. Much of the second half of the film takes place inside the Japanese tunnels, creating a claustrophobic atmosphere, and this in turn helps us to more readily empathise with the characters.

But 'Flags' is the more ambitious of the two films, tackling not only the horror of war but its politics and aftermath too. The direction is messy in places, and the earlier scenes perhaps confusing (it took me quite a while to identify all the soldiers involved in the raising of the flag), but nevertheless it is more thought-provoking than 'Letters'.

There's a strong case for watching 'Letters' first, and then 'Flags'; I suspect the latter will then make more sense and have a greater impact. But neither should be watched in isolation, and that is the real strength of Eastwood's project: an unusual and all too rare attempt to show both sides of a conflict, without taking sides.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Eastwood's war in the Pacific, 13 Nov. 2011
By 
RR Waller "ISeneca" (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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The more Clint Eastwood matures, the better his film become (not that his early, violent "Dirty Harry" and western films were not good); however, his later films seem to have deepened and provide a much more thoughtful, philosophical and engaging approach. The other reviews give a great deal of information about the plots, so there is little need for me to give more here. Suffice it to say that this view of the Pacific War from both sides is a moving pair and well worth watching. The insights he presents linked to such memorable events as the marines raising the flag build a believable reality and show the strains surrounding these young men; the letters is an excellent story telling technique and they present the "enemy" in a very different light.

The DVD come in a very unusual and substantial tin box, imprinted with images of the films, and it makes a statement of its own.

I recommend and enjoyed both of these films from a great director.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Flags/Iwo Jima pairing, 13 Jan. 2010
By 
John Alsop (Erskineville, NSW Australia) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Flags of Our Fathers / Letters From Iwo Jima [Blu-ray] [2007] [Region Free] (Blu-ray)
Both these films reflect Eastwood's meticulous approach to direction and storytelling as an art. They offer an interesting two sides of the coin angle on the same subject. Tora Tora Tora! tried to do it all in one film but didn't entirely succeed. Inevitably viewers will probably favour one or other of these motion pictures. For me Letters from Iwo Jima was more engaging and revealing. While it is carefully composed, it doesn't feel quite as studied as Flags of Our Fathers which tackles its somewhat provocative subject via traditional narrative techniques. It's quite a good film but Letters comes closer to magnificence and takes more risks with static elements and set pieces which it ultimately transcends to provide greater emotional satisfaction. But probably you can't, or shouldn't, have one film without the other.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Exact Opposite Of What Everyone Else Is Saying, 15 Nov. 2007
By 
F. Mugavero (Denver, CO USA) - See all my reviews
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I don't get it...

Both are decent films and IWO JIMA has the added nobility and novelty of being a story told from the "enemy" point of view - a great idea and about time - but FLAGS is by far the more entertaining film. It may be slightly flawed structurally (as all war films usually are, from APOCALYPSE NOW to PLATOON to THE THIN RED LINE to A BRIDGE TOO FAR, you name it - war just does not lend itself to a classic three act structure), but it is very compelling and has something concrete to say about real versus manufactured heroism. This is far from a jingoistic movie. Eastwood is interested in taking the WWII mythology and turning it every which way, examining it's blemishes with a magnifying glass. Why else would the heart of the film be a tortured Native-American hardly proud of his service or living out the American dream?

Most of the reviewers here seem to be mimicking the conventional wisdom of the critics. It may also be that the more "American" film is bound to be "overblown", I don't know. The big complaint is that FLAGS doesn't stick to the battlefield and have more action - I'm sorry, but how ridiculous a criticism is that? They missed the entire point of the film: the incongruity of the civilian world, the glorified ideal of war, with the nightmare of battle these soldiers have to live with the rest of their lives.

Instead, I had high hopes for IWO JIMA and that's where my disappointment lies. For me, it's actually the oddly unsatisfying movie of the two. The actors are excellent (Ken Watanabe is amazing, period) and it gets so many things right - so why does it feel leaden, awkwardly paced, static, underpopulated, and worst of all, contrived? I still admire it, but I find it very hard to love. And I wanted to, as I'm an ardent fan of Japanese film. Something just doesn't gel about it or flow right and makes it a chore to sit through once, let alone watch again. They're both worth seeing, and like I say, IWO JIMA has its moments, but FLAGS is the one that will stay in my collection and I know I'll come back to again and again.

In any case, Eastwood is to be praised for such an experiment.
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Flags of Our Fathers / Letters From Iwo Jima [Blu-ray] [2007] [Region Free]
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