Sunday, August 01, 2010

Clint Eastwood: Letters from Iwo Jima / Iōtō Kara no Tegami

Finally checked out Clint Eastwood's Letters from Iwo Jima (2006).  It's excellent and has the primary ingredient found in all the best war movies: empathy for more than one point of view.  This one's almost entirely in Japanese and shows the doomed defenders of Iwo Jima before and during the 1945 battle. Only a couple hundred Japanese soldiers survived -- out of about 18,000 men. Ken Watanabe is superb as the thoroughly professional commander, Lieutenant General Tadamichi Kuribayashi; the entire cast is terrific.  The world needs something like this from the Vietnamese point of view for the US-Vietnam War.

In addition to Letters from Iwo Jima, these are among my choices for best non-documentary war films, in no particular order:

Oliver Hirschbiegel: Der Untergang (2004) / Downfall  (2005)
Richard Fleischer, Kinji Fukasaku and Toshio Masuda: Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970)

Sergei Bondarchuk: Waterloo / Ватерлоо (1970)
Francis Ford Coppola: Apocalypse Now! (1979)
Jean Renoir: La Grande Illusion  / Grand Illusion (1937)
Aleksandr Askoldov: Комиссар / Commissar (1967)
David Lean: Lawrence of Arabia (1962)  
Ken Annakin, Andrew Marton, Bernhard Wicki, Gerd Oswald: The Longest Day (1962) 
Richard Attenborough: A Bridge Too Far (1977)
Lewis Milestone: All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)
Stanley Kubrick: Paths of Glory (1957) 
Sam Peckinpah: Cross of Iron (1977)
John Guillermin: The Blue Max (1966)
Kathryn Bigelow: The Hurt Locker (2008/2009)
Wolfgang Petersen: Das Boot (1981)
Peter Weir: Gallipoli (1981) 
Let's not forget Gillo Pontecorvo's  La battaglia di Algeri (1966) /Battle of Algiers (1967) and Queimada (1969) / Burn! (1970)

What did I miss? 

Today's Rune: Journey.


jodi said...

Erik, war movies scare the hell out of me, but I admit to learning more thru them than any class I've taken!

pattinase (abbott) said...


Charles Gramlich said...

I've wanted to see this.

Erik Donald France said...

Hey thanks all for the comments! Patti -- I haven't seen either -- must get Go Tell the Spartans. Casualty of War was an incident repeated in Iraq, hideous. Support the troops, but not all of them.

Johnny Yen said...

Great list. I second pattinase's suggestion of "Go Tell The Spartans." Odd side note: the role of Sgt. Oleonowski in "Spartans" was played by the then-young actor Jonathan Goldsmith, who is best-known these days for playing "The Most Interesting Man in the World" in the Dos Equis commercials.