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Flags of our Fathers

August 30, 2010

Flags of our Fathers (2006)
Director: Clint Eastwood
Actors: Ryan Phillippe, Tom Beach, Jesse Bradford

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Synopsis: The difficult aftermath for the men who hoisted the US flag at Iwo Jima in WW2.

Review: Clint Eastwood has fashioned a very paradoxical telling of the American side of the Iwo Jima conflict: Flags of our Fathers is a liberal story, told very conservatively. The deconstruction of the American propaganda machine at home and how it exploited the valour shown by troops in Iwo Jima should have offered carte blanche to a filmmaker to make a savage critique of America’s shady myth-making ideology. Eastwood however makes the story excessively dry and portentous – more a paean to the comradeship of soldiers and an excuse for a man’s sentimental deathbed ‘reconciliation’ with his father. Eastwood plays into the material too much, hammering home the ironies of the men’s many civic ceremonies as “war heroes”, while juxtaposing that with flashbacks to what really happened on Iwo Jima and the truth behind all the people involved with the photograph’s staging. Perhaps a more truly cynical film – made by an artier director or more sceptical patriot, rather than the consummate, but industrially-ensconced craftsman that Eastwood is – would have made for a more interesting end-result. (January 2008)

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