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Overall Rating
3.54

Awesome: 13.41%
Worth A Look46.34%
Average: 24.39%
Pretty Bad: 12.2%
Total Crap: 3.66%

9 reviews, 28 user ratings


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Flags of Our Fathers
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by Doug Bentin

"An autumnal look at heroism"
4 stars

One of the most famous lines of dialogue from any American film comes in John Ford’s “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” when the newspaper publisher advises that “When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.” There was no time for the facts to take hold before legends sprang up around Joe Rosenthal’s famous photo of the flag raising on Iwo Jima in 1945.

We learn from the film that one group of three men raised the flag. A non-combatant big shot came ashore and wanted the flag as a souvenir but a colonel on the ground (Robert Patrick) thought the flag should go to the Marine Corps. The first flag taken down and a sub run up. Rosenthal was on hand when the second flag was lifted on the end of a heavy pole—that’s why it took six guys to raise it, not because of enemy fire—and his photo of that event is the one that captured the Pulitzer Prize and the hearts of Americans.

A runner—a fella who carries messages along the line—named Rene Gagnon (Jesse Bradford) was one of the six, and when, due to the popularity of the photo, the military brass decided to turn the flag-raisers into heroes, Gagnon was asked to identify the other five. By the time this occurred, three of them were dead. Gagnon remembered Navy medical corpsman John “Doc” Bradley (Ryan Phillippe) and, he thought, Marine Ira Hayes (Adam Beech).

The three men were then sent back to the States to help raise funds in the seventh war bond campaign. The problem was that only Gagnon enjoyed the hand-shaking and back-slapping. Doc was bemused by it all and Hayes just wanted to get back to his buddies on Iwo.

Director Clint Eastwood, working from a script by Paul Haggis (“Million Dollar Baby,” “Crash”), re-written from one by William Broyles, Jr., hops from event to event, from the initial battle at Iwo Jima, brilliantly and achingly filmed, to the bond tour, to the later lives of the men. We’re getting used to this non-linear approach to story telling now so it’s easy enough to know in what order we need to arrange the episodes, and Eastwood ties each jump together so we know what it is that is prompting the leap.

The film is, of course, a smart salute aimed at the military who faced, and still face, the unimaginable horrors of war so the rest of us won’t have to, but it’s also a thoughtful examination of the idea of the hero. The film seems to be saying ultimately either that there are no heroes because these people just do their jobs, or that they’re all heroes for just doing their jobs. What’s necessary for those of us who aren’t at ground zero is the concept of heroism.

The film has an elegiac feel to it. Much of the color has been faded out so that the images of events taking place in the States look like those on Iwo, and all of them have come from the scrapbook of memory. Co-produced by Eastwood and Steven Spielberg, who bought the rights to James Bradley’s book before Eastwood had a chance to, the movie makes a good companion piece to “Saving Private Ryan.” If the earlier movie was about doing things in combat you don’t want to do for public relations reasons, this one is about the same dilemma faced out of the battle zone.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=15263&reviewer=405
originally posted: 11/03/06 05:11:01
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User Comments

12/29/17 morris campbell good not great 4 stars
9/21/17 Anne while the film is playing I'm reading reviews of it... 1 stars
5/25/12 Ed Totleben Jr Great adaptation of the book 4 stars
5/24/10 herb kearns very realistic, I was there 5 stars
10/04/08 PAUL SHORTT AN EXCITING, THOUGHT PROVOKING AND MOVING FILM 3 stars
9/28/07 mr.mike not bad 3 stars
6/10/07 Bob OMG - This is the worst offering by Eastwood EVER! Utterly unwatchable. 1 stars
5/30/07 Piz I expected better, clumsy and empty for stretches at a time. Not bad, but not a must-have. 3 stars
5/29/07 action movie fan very realistic combat scenes but little else-story is pretentious and dull 3 stars
5/21/07 Sam Bonner Becomes unfocused when it leaves the battlefield. Good but should have been better. 3 stars
4/27/07 Bart lacks any kind off subtility. Haggis should stop ruining scripts. 2 stars
4/19/07 AJ Muller Eastwood nails another winner. Worthy heroes + questionable politicking = shades of grey. 4 stars
3/25/07 Eric R. Has Eastwood lost his mind? This is lamer than Blood Work. An unbelievable disappointment. 2 stars
3/12/07 megan excellent movie 5 stars
2/19/07 neznamo War is tragic and heroes are not always heroic 4 stars
2/08/07 UGB Too long disappointed after the hype it received 2 stars
11/23/06 Tiffany Losco Good movie, but probably wouldn't watch it agian. 4 stars
11/20/06 michael good story 2 see 4 stars
11/14/06 Merle Adam beach and Barry Pepper were great, but the movie was flat. 3 stars
11/06/06 Bert Kaplan a 5 stars
11/06/06 Bobbi Good nostalgia piece but story needs to be clearer 4 stars
10/29/06 Quigley probably the most moving film to hit the theaters this year. reminds me of the real heroes 5 stars
10/24/06 michael had its moments but wait for the DVD 4 stars
10/24/06 Steve b Hollywood propaganda Fails badly 2 stars
10/23/06 Taylor Fladgate I was hoping for more. Uneven, and who is dictating the dams story? 3 stars
10/23/06 cd beats gay magic movie 5 stars
10/22/06 Al Iwo was sacred ground. Clint urinated all over it. Bad movie. 1 stars
10/22/06 Mark ho hum war film 3 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  20-Oct-2006 (R)
  DVD: 06-Feb-2007

UK
  22-Dec-2006

Australia
  02-Nov-2006


Directed by
  Clint Eastwood

Written by
  Paul Haggis

Cast
  Ryan Phillippe
  Jesse Bradford
  Adam Beach
  Paul Walker
  Jamie Bell
  Barry Pepper



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