Oscar preview: “Letters from Iwo Jima”

0 0

By Corinne Love

Ken Watanabe stars in “Letters from Iwo Jima.” (Warner Bros.)

By Corinne Love

War films are usually told from the “hero” angle.

Rarely does a film in the war genre approach the “enemy” tale with empathy and artistic sensitivity.

Set in 1945, “Letters from Iwo Jima” takes place amidst the forty day encroachment of American troops onto the Japanese isles of Iwo Jima. Clint Eastwood takes the unusual standpoint and accompanies it with the critically acclaimed companion piece, “Flags of our Fathers.”

Eastwood’s sensitivity towards both subjects showcases that war often eludes the humanity of the soldiers who fought. Shot entirely in muted colors, dark and intense grays and blacks, the film has a decidedly focused feel.

The decision to treat the subject matter of the film with neutral empathy and delicate but strong dialogue should give Eastwood the Oscar for Best Director.

The film’s dialogue is spoken entirely in Japanese, and portrayed by Japanese actors who are little known stateside.

Ken Watanabe fills the screen as the iconoclastic guard, Tadamichi Kuribayashi whose composure against the odds is overwhelming. The soldiers are dedicated, and resigned to a fate that even they have mixed feelings about.

In one particular scene, Kuribayashi tells his men that they should not expect to survive. In another scene, an ambivalent soldier says “There is nothing special about this land,” showing a divided Japan. While watching “Letters from Iwo Jima,” viewers will feel the same claustrophobic, pressured feeling that the soldiers do. Eastwood allows room to breathe by filling the frames with his actors, who each show bravery in the face of devastation.

%d bloggers like this: