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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    ‘Iwo Jima’ hits close to home

    They say to truly understand someone, you have to walk a mile in their shoes. Clint Eastwood already walked a mile in the shoes of American soldiers with “”Flags of our Fathers,”” so it seemed only fair to look at the same battle through the eyes of the Japanese opposition.

    To put it into context, the battle of Iwo Jima in World War II was never meant to be a victory. The Japanese command planned on using a battle to delay the enemy so they had more time to plan defense for the homeland. When “”Letters”” begins, the Japanese troops are already in place on the island,digging ditches in preparation for the upcoming battle. General Kuribayashi (Ken Watanabe) decides instead of the normal beach landing brawl, that they will dig out tunnels through the hills. Everyone on the island sees that this will be a losing battle right away, but the question is how many troops will have to die.

    Kuribayashi faces problems right away. The other generals think he is a coward and an American sympathizer for wanting to “”hide”” in the tunnels, the homeland takes away their air and naval support for more important battles and the U.S. fleets that storm the coast seem never-ending. The problems keep arising. The Japanese troops are vastly outnumbered, and their food and ammunition supplies run out. There’s no escape from the island and the troops are left with no option but to die “”with honor.””

    “”Letters”” is shot in a dark bluish-gray light, which only adds to the depression of the battle. The only color that’s ever brought to the screen is the explosions of the American missiles. This helps build into the Japanese soldiers’ feeling that there is no escape from the never-ending darkness of their tunnels.

    The major difference between “”Letters”” and “”Flags”” is the different emotions of the characters. While the battle scene in “”Flags”” was brutal, it led to a major triumph. In “”Letters,”” there is nothing but grief and despair. The Japanese go into the battle saying that no man will leave and that before any of them die, they must take ten men with them. While the only complex character in “”Flags”” was American Indian Ira Hayes, here they all are emotionally complex. Each character struggles differently with whether they really are willing to give up everything for their homeland and how they feel about the Americans. It’s hard not get sucked into their feeling of futility.

    Having war movies out at a time when we’re at war brings more thoughts forward that we might have overlooked. Does having pride for your country always mean death? Are your convictions really the same as your country’s? Most importantly, where does morality come into play in life-and-death situations? Time may have passed since Iwo Jima, but these are issues that are still yet to be resolved.

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