June 9, 2007

Flags of Our Fathers

Flags of Our Fathers is the companion film to Letters from Iwo Jima, told from the U.S. side. This film came out a year before Letters from Iwo Jima, and has a very different feeling to it. Whereas Letters from Iwo Jima focuses more upon the Japanese soldiers and the battle itself, Flags of Our Fathers spends relatively little time on the battlefield, choosing instead of explore how three soldiers coming back from the fighting deal with their celebrity status and then the remainder of their lives. It jumps back and forth a lot, between the war, time after the war, and the present day to tell their stories.

I didn't like Flags as much as Letters. There isn't as much excitement and it doesn't feel particularly extraordinary the majority of the time. It's much more like a memoir, or character study, of those three soldiers as they go through their lives during that time. But it lacks something. I'm not really sure what it lacks, but I wasn't engrossed in the film and it didn't feel like if I missed a portion that it would matter later on. Maybe it is the discontinuity of things that makes it that way.

The visual and audio quality is very high though. Both during the scenes on Iwo Jima and the ordinary settings back in the United States. You can tell that a lot went into making this film authentic at home, because it never feels wrong or staged or artificial. And the sound really is full range and makes you feel like you're there. I don't think the music was as good in this film though. I sort of feel like there were times when the mood could have been heightened, but wasn't. That's really an artistic choice though, in this kind of film, since realistically we don't walk around with background music. And it felt like a documentary or biography in that respect.

The acting is pretty good, overall, and Ryan Phillippe is an excellent actor. However I really felt like the one outstanding performance was that of Adam Beach, who played a Native American soldier and no one let him forget it. In a lot of ways, his character is the most tragic, because for everything he tried to do, it feels a lot like life left him behind and also that he could not find a way to move forward. Watching him, it really feels like he's carrying a heavy burden or is surrounded by ghosts. Even though it's Ryan Phillippe's character that seems to witness the most death and gore in the movie.

Posted by josuah at June 9, 2007 6:35 AM UTC+00:00

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