Reviewed by: Jonathan Rodriguez
What is the Biblical perspective on war? Answer
What kind of world would you create? Answer
Why does God allow innocent people to suffer? Answer
What about the issue of suffering? Doesn’t this prove that there is no God and that we are on our own? Answer
Does God feel our pain? Answer
The Origin of bad—How did bad things come about? Answer
|Featuring:||Ryan Phillippe, Adam Beach, Jesse Bradford, Jamie Bell, Ben Walker|
|Producer:||Clint Eastwood, Steven Spielberg, Robert Lorenz|
“Every Soldier Stands Beside A Hero”
Clint Eastwood’s “Flags of Our Fathers” lands us on Iwo Jima for a harrowing look at the battles fought there during World War II, and then returns us stateside to witness the internal battles fought by three survivors. Everyone has seen the picture of the six brave soldiers who raised the American flag on Iwo Jima’s Mount Suribachi, but Eastwood uses that as the focus of his film, and follows the three of those six who survived the war.
Ryan Phillippe plays Jon “Doc” Bradley, a Navy medic whose responsibility it seems is to make everything seem alright to those wound victims he knows have no chance of survival. Jesse Bradford plays Rene Gagnon, a Marine runner who is none to thrilled to be on the island. Adam Beach plays Ira Hayes, an American Indian (Pima) who takes the war very seriously and is the brunt of many racial jokes from his fellow soldiers. The three men are part of the six man crew who raised that famous flag on Iwo Jima.
When the picture, taken by Joe Rosenthal, hits the newspapers back in America, it becomes instantly popular, and is seen by many as being a sign that victory has been achieved. The powers that be realize that, since the war is far from over, the picture can be used as a rallying cry to raise more money for the war and call home the men from the picture who are still alive to do the fundraising. Gagnon jumps at the opportunity to leave Iwo Jima. Bradley, who had been wounded, returns home almost nonchalantly, as if expecting to return soon. Ira Hayes doesn’t have any desire to leave Iwo Jima, and even threatens Gagnon’s life if he is named as one of the flag raisers. Gagnon doesn’t name him initially, saying that he can’t remember who the other guy was. But, when the question is raised that maybe since he can’t remember he wasn’t actually one of the flag raisers and is threatened that he will be sent back if he can’t name the third guy, he relents, much to the dismay of Hayes.
When the boys return home, they are forced to make appearances, speeches, even re-enactments of the flag-raising. Gagnon loves the spotlight (as does his camera-friendly girlfriend) and uses his newfound fame as a way to get job offers for when he is done touring. Ira Hayes despises the hero status thrust upon him by the picture, so much that he drinks himself numb before each appearance.
The story is told in flashback. It opens with Bradley, much older now as the war has long passed, reliving the horrible scenes from the war in his nightmares—flashbacks that have no doubt haunted him all his life. We then flashback to before the soldiers land on Iwo Jima. We see them train, get briefed on the lay of the island, and get to know each other as each prepares to fight in its own way. It continues going back and forth in time: we see the boys at war, we see them at home raising money, back at war, back raising money, etc. If there is one thing about “Flags of Our Fathers” that I didn’t appreciate, it was the choppy timeline. I didn’t really see the need for flashbacks every few minutes; the film would have flowed smoothly and been much more seamless had it started from the beginning and then followed the three men as they experienced the war and the aftermath.
There is one great flashback scene, though, that either way would have worked. The three men are re-enacting the flag-raising on a fake mountain in the middle of Soldier Field in Chicago. As each of the men climb up to the top, with fireworks going off all around them and lights flashing everywhere, they individually are taken back to the horrifying things they saw on the island. It is, in my opinion, the film’s most powerful scene.
“Flags of Our Fathers” contains what you would likely expect from a war movie. It does contain a decent amount of language. The most offensive to Christians will likely be the frequent profane uses of the Lord’s name, in all its forms. The violence will remind many of “Saving Private Ryan;” it is every bit as horrifying and haunting. Parents should take caution in letting impressionable or squeamish children see this film. It will, however, provide a powerful lesson to those older children who can stomach the violence.
“Flags of Our Fathers” is a really good war movie, but I don’t know that I can describe it as a great one; the back and forth timeline really does get frustrating after a while. The acting in the film is subdued, which in most cases is a good thing, but during some of the movie’s more powerful scenes, the acting comes out flat, as if the actors are still in the first stages of script reading. I am not going to discourage people from seeing the movie based on these few minor annoyances. I am only mentioning them because, to me, they prevented “Flag of Our Fathers” from becoming a war movie classic.
Violence: Extreme / Profanity: Extreme / Sex/Nudity: None
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.