Freedom Folks

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Movie Review: Flags of our Fathers

Our anniversary is this Tuesday, and we celebrated quietly last night with dinner and a movie. I picked Flags of our Fathers, and it knocked my socks off.

The film tells the true story behind the raising of the flag at Iwo Jima, and how it affected those who raised it, their families, and the nation. It is told through the eyes of John "Doc" Bradley, and is based on the best-selling book written by his son, James Bradley, with Ron Powers.

First, let me address the two complaints I've heard about this movie...

Confusing/hard to follow: I was never confused or lost in the story. Clint Eastwood is a masterful director (more on that later), and he used lots -- and I do mean lots -- of quick cuts to tell this story, but I literally never had a hard time following.

Un-American/Anti-American: Nonsense! I know what people were getting at with this complaint, but I found it to be a brutally honest representation of war.

Much like with Million Dollar Baby and the criticism it received as somehow promoting euthanasia, Flags of Our Fathers was Clint Eastwood doing what he does best: telling an emotionally honest story about characters facing moral dilemmas, dealing with the cards they've been dealt in life, and the consequences of their own actions. I got no sense of judgment or preaching as I watched this movie. Instead, I was engaged with the wrenching experiences of these men, both in war and when they got back home.

War is ugly. War is painful. War is controversial. It takes a tremendous director to tell an honest war story without "making a statement." It takes incredible restraint to focus in on what is always the essence of a good story -- the people -- and let the characters tell it, not the director.
For me, Clint Eastwood is that tremendous and incredible director, and that makes Flags of Our Fathers a must-see movie.

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Flags of Our Fathers * Iwo Jima * World War II * Clint Eastwood * Movie Review