Flags of Our Fathers (film)

Last updated

Flags of Our Fathers
Flags of our fathers.jpg
North American theatrical release poster
Directed by Clint Eastwood
Screenplay by
Based on Flags of Our Fathers
by James Bradley
and Ron Powers
Produced by
Starring
Cinematography Tom Stern
Edited by Joel Cox
Music by
  • Clint Eastwood
  • Kyle Eastwood (uncredited)
  • Michael Stevens (uncredited)
Production
companies
Distributed by
Release date
  • October 20, 2006 (2006-10-20)
Running time
132 minutes [1]
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$90 million [2]
Box office$65.9 million [2]

Flags of Our Fathers is a 2006 American war film directed, co-produced, and scored by Clint Eastwood and written by William Broyles Jr. and Paul Haggis. It is based on the 2000 book of the same name written by James Bradley and Ron Powers about the 1945 Battle of Iwo Jima, the five Marines and one Navy corpsman who were involved in raising the flag on Iwo Jima, and the after effects of that event on their lives.

Contents

The film is taken from the American viewpoint of the Battle of Iwo Jima, while its companion film, Letters from Iwo Jima , which Eastwood also directed, is from the Japanese viewpoint of the battle. Although it was a box office failure, only grossing $65.9 million against a $90 million budget, the film received favorable reviews from critics. [3]

The companion film Letters from Iwo Jima was released in Japan on December 9, 2006, and in the United States on December 20, 2006, two months after the release of Flags of Our Fathers on October 20, 2006.

Until June 23, 2016, the author Bradley's father John Bradley, Navy corpsman, was misidentified as being one of the figures who raised the second flag, and incorrectly depicted on the bronze statue memorial, as one of the five flag-raisers of the 32-foot (9.8 m) monument. [4] And until October 16, 2019, Rene Gagnon was also misidentified.

Plot

As three US servicemen – Marine Private First Class Ira Hayes, Private First Class Rene Gagnon, and Navy Pharmacist's Mate 2nd Class John "Doc" Bradley – are feted as heroes in a war bond drive, they reflect on their experiences via flashback.

After training at Camp Tarawa in Hawaii, the 28th Marine Regiment 5th Marine Division sails to invade Iwo Jima. The Navy bombards suspected Japanese positions for three days. Sergeant Mike Strank is put in charge of Second Platoon.

The next day, February 19, 1945, the Marines land in Higgins boats and LVTs. The beaches are silent and Private First Class Ralph "Iggy" Ignatowski wonders if the defenders are all dead before Japanese heavy artillery and machine guns open fire on the advancing Marines and the Navy ships. Casualties are heavy, but the beaches are secured.

Two days later, the Marines attack Mount Suribachi under a rain of Japanese artillery and machine gun fire, as the Navy bombards the mountain. Doc saves the lives of several Marines under fire, which later earns him the Navy Cross. The mountain is eventually secured.

On February 23, the platoon under command of Sergeant Hank Hansen reaches the top of Mount Suribachi and hoists the United States flag to cheers from the beaches and the ships. Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal, who witnesses the flag raising as he lands on the beach, requests the flag for himself. Colonel Chandler Johnson decides his 2nd Battalion deserves the flag more. Rene is sent up with Second Platoon to replace the first flag with a second one for Forrestal to take. Mike, Doc, Ira, Rene, and two other Marines (Corporal Harlon Block and Private First Class Franklin Sousley) are photographed by Joe Rosenthal as they raise the second flag.

On March 1, the Second Platoon is ambushed from a Japanese machine gun nest. During the fight over the nest, Mike is hit by a U.S. Navy shell and dies from his wounds. Later that day, Hank is shot in the chest and dies, and Harlon is killed by machine gun fire.

Two nights later, while Doc is helping a wounded Marine, Iggy is abducted by Japanese troops and dragged into a tunnel. Doc finds his viciously mangled body a few days later. On March 21, Franklin is killed by machine gun fire and dies in Ira's arms. Of the eight men in the squad, only three are left: Doc, Ira, and Rene. A few days after Franklin's death, Doc is wounded by artillery fire while trying to save a fellow corpsman. He survives and is sent back home. On March 26, the battle ends and the U.S. Marines are victorious.

After the battle, the press gets hold of Rosenthal's photograph. It is a huge morale booster and becomes famous. Rene is asked to name the six men in the photo; he identifies himself, Mike, Doc, and Franklin, but misidentifies Harlon as Hank. Rene eventually names Ira as the sixth man, even after Ira threatens to kill him for doing so.

Doc, Ira, and Rene are sent home as part of the seventh bond tour. When they arrive to a hero's welcome in Washington, DC, Doc notices that Hank's mother is on the list of mothers of the dead flag raisers. Ira angrily denounces the bond drive as a farce. The men are reprimanded by Bud Gerber of the Treasury Department, who tells them that the country cannot afford the war and if the bond drive fails, the U.S. will abandon the Pacific and their sacrifices will be for nothing. The three agree not to tell anyone that Hank was not in the photograph.

As the three are sent around the country to raise money and make speeches, Ira is guilt-ridden, faces discrimination as a Native American, and descends into alcoholism. After he throws up one night in front of General Alexander Vandegrift, commandant of the Marine Corps, he is sent back to his unit and the bond drive continues without him.

After the war, the three survivors return to their homes. Ira still struggles with alcoholism and is never able to escape his unwanted fame. One day after being released from jail, he hitchhikes over 1,300 miles to Texas to see Harlon Block's family. He tells Harlon's father that his son was indeed at the base of the flag in the photograph. In 1954, the USMC War Memorial is dedicated and the three flag raisers see each other one last time. In 1955, Ira is found dead and he is suspected to have died from exposure after a night of drinking. There was no autopsy. That same year, Doc drives to the town where Iggy's mother lives to tell her how Iggy died, though it is implied that he does not tell her the truth. Rene attempts a business career, but finds that the opportunities and offers he received during the bond drive are rescinded. After failing to find work as a police officer, he spends the rest of his life as a janitor. Doc, by contrast, is successful, buying a funeral home. In 1994, on his deathbed, he tells his story to his son, James, and in a final flashback to 1945, the men swim in the ocean after raising the flags.

Cast

Production

The film rights to the book were purchased by DreamWorks in June 2000. [5] Producer Steven Spielberg brought William Broyles to write the first drafts of the script, before director Clint Eastwood brought Paul Haggis to rewrite. [6] In the process of reading about the Japanese perspective of the war, in particular General Tadamichi Kuribayashi, Eastwood decided to film a companion piece with Letters from Iwo Jima , which was shot entirely in Japanese. [7] Bradley Cooper auditioned for one of the leading roles. [8] Flags of Our Fathers was shot in the course of 58 days. [7] Jared Leto was originally cast as Rene Gagnon but had to back out due to a tour commitment with his band, Thirty Seconds to Mars. [9]

Flags of Our Fathers cost $55 million, although it was originally budgeted at $80 million. Variety subsequently downgraded the price tag to $55 million. Although the film is taken from the American viewpoint of the battle, it was filmed almost entirely in Iceland and Southern California, with a few scenes shot in Chicago. Shooting ended early 2006, before production for Letters from Iwo Jima began in March 2006.

Release

Critical reception

On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, Flags of Our Fathers has an approval rating of 73% based on 196 reviews, with an average rating of 7.01/10. The site's consensus states: "Flags of Our Fathers is both a fascinating look at heroism, both earned and manufactured, and a well-filmed salute to the men who fought at the battle of Iwo Jima." [3] On Metacritic, the film scored a 79 out of 100 based on 39 reviews, indicating "Generally favorable reviews." [10] Roger Ebert gave the film four stars out of four praising the film for its depiction of war. [11]

The film made the top-10 list of the National Board of Review. Eastwood also earned a Golden Globe nomination for directing. The film was nominated for two Academy Awards — for Best Sound Mixing (John T. Reitz, David E. Campbell, Gregg Rudloff, and Walt Martin) and Sound Editing. [12] Film critic Richard Roeper said, "Clint Eastwood's Flags of Our Fathers stands with the Oscar-winning Unforgiven and Million Dollar Baby as an American masterpiece. It is a searing and powerful work from a 76-year-old artist who remains at the top of his game... [and] Flags of Our Fathers is a patriotic film in that it honors those who fought in the Pacific, but it is also patriotic because it questions the official version of the truth, and reminds us that superheroes exist only in comic books and cartoon movies." [13]

Top ten lists

Flags of Our Fathers was listed on numerous critics' top ten lists for 2006. [14]

Box office

Despite critical acclaim, the film under-performed at the box office, earning just $65,900,249 worldwide on an estimated $90 million production budget. Its companion film Letters From Iwo Jima was more profitable with a box office run of $71 million on a budget of $19 million. [18]

Spike Lee controversy

At the 2008 Cannes Film Festival, director Spike Lee, who was making Miracle at St. Anna , about an all-black U.S. division fighting in Italy during World War II, criticized director Clint Eastwood for not depicting black Marines in Flags of Our Fathers. [19] Citing historical accuracy, Eastwood responded that his film was specifically about the Marines who raised the flag on Mount Suribachi at Iwo Jima, pointing out that while black Marines did fight at Iwo Jima, the U.S. military was segregated during World War II, and none of the men who raised the flag were black. Eastwood believed Lee was using the comments to promote Miracle at St. Anna and angrily said that Lee should "shut his face". [19] Lee responded that Eastwood was acting like an "angry old man", and argued that despite making two Iwo Jima films back to back, Letters from Iwo Jima and Flags of Our Fathers, "there was not one black Marine in both of those films". [20] [21] [22]

Contrary to Lee's claims, however, black Marines (including an all-black unit) are seen in several scenes during which the mission is outlined, as well as during the initial landings, when a wounded black Marine is carried away. During the end credits, historical photographs taken during the Battle of Iwo Jima show black Marines. Although black Marines fought in the battle, they were restricted to auxiliary roles, such as ammunition supply, and were not involved in the battle's major assaults; they did, however, take part in defensive actions. [23] According to Alexander M. Bielakowski and Raffaele Ruggeri, "Half a million African Americans served overseas during World War II, almost all in segregated second-line units." [24] The number of African Americans killed in action was 708. [25]

Spielberg later intervened between the two directors, after which Lee sent a copy of a film on which he was working to Eastwood for a private screening as a seeming token of apology. [19]

Home media

The DVD was released in the United States by DreamWorks Home Entertainment and internationally by Warner Home Video on February 6, 2007. It is devoid of any special features.

A two-disc Special Collector's Edition DVD (with special features) was released on May 22, 2007. [26] It was also released on HD DVD and Blu-ray formats. [27]

The Two-Disc Special Collector's Edition DVD is also available in a five-disc commemorative set that also includes the two-disc Special Collector's Edition of Letters from Iwo Jima and a bonus fifth disc containing History Channel's Heroes of Iwo Jima documentary and To the Shores of Iwo Jima , a documentary produced by the United States Navy and the United States Marine Corps, released by Warner Home Video. [28]

See also

Related Research Articles

Ira Hayes Native American United States Marine

Ira Hamilton Hayes was a Akimel O'odham Native American and a United States Marine during World War II. Hayes was an enrolled member of the Gila River Indian Community, located in Pinal and Maricopa counties in Arizona. He enlisted in the United States Marine Corps Reserve on August 26, 1942, and, after recruit training, volunteered to become a Paramarine. He fought in the Bougainville and Iwo Jima campaigns in the Pacific War.

<i>Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima</i> Iconic photograph taken during the Battle of Iwo Jima of World War II

Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima is an iconic photograph of six United States Marines raising the U.S. flag atop Mount Suribachi during the Battle of Iwo Jima in the final stages of the Pacific War. The photograph, taken by Joe Rosenthal of the Associated Press on February 23, 1945, was first published in Sunday newspapers two days later and reprinted in thousands of publications. It was the only photograph to win the Pulitzer Prize for Photography in the same year as its publication, and was later used for the construction of the Marine Corps War Memorial in 1954, which was dedicated to honor all Marines who died in service since 1775. The memorial, sculpted by Felix de Weldon, is located in Arlington Ridge Park, near the Ord-Weitzel Gate to Arlington National Cemetery and the Netherlands Carillon. The photograph has come to be regarded in the United States as one of the most significant and recognizable images of World War II.

Harlon Block US Marine Corps corporal

Harlon Henry Block was a United States Marine Corps corporal who was killed in action during the Battle of Iwo Jima in World War II.

Rene Gagnon United States Marine

René Arthur Gagnon was a United States Marine Corps corporal who participated in the Battle of Iwo Jima during World War II.

Michael Strank

Michael Strank was a United States Marine Corps sergeant who was killed in action during the Battle of Iwo Jima in World War II. He was one of the Marines who raised the second U.S. flag on Mount Suribachi on February 23, 1945, as shown in the iconic photograph Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima by photographer Joe Rosenthal. Of the six Marines depicted in the photo, Strank was the only one to be correctly identified from the beginning; the other five were either assigned the wrong locations, or, were given the names of Marines who were not actually in that particular photo.

John Bradley (United States Navy) United States Navy corpsman

John Henry "Jack" "Doc" Bradley was a United States Navy Hospital corpsman who was awarded the Navy Cross for extraordinary heroism while serving with the Marines during the Battle of Iwo Jima in World War II. During the battle, he was a member of the patrol that captured the top of Mount Suribachi and raised the first U.S. flag on Iwo Jima on February 23, 1945.

Franklin Sousley

Franklin Runyon Sousley was a United States Marine who was killed in action during the Battle of Iwo Jima in World War II. He was one of the six Marines who raised the second of two U.S. flags on top of Mount Suribachi on February 23, 1945, as shown in the iconic photograph Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima.

James Bradley (author) American author

James Bradley is an American author from Antigo, Wisconsin, specializing in historical nonfiction chronicling the Pacific theatre of World War II. His father, John Bradley, was long thought to be one of the six men who was in the photograph raising the American flag on Mount Suribachi during the Battle of Iwo Jima in 1945. That photograph has gone on to be one of the most duplicated and reproduced photos ever taken.

<i>Flags of Our Fathers</i>

Flags of Our Fathers (2000) is a book by James Bradley with Ron Powers about his father, Navy corpsman John Bradley, and five United States Marines, who were made famous by Joe Rosenthal’s Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima photograph. The story follows the lives of Bradley, Rene Gagnon, Ira Hamilton Hayes, Michael Strank, Harlon Henry Block, and Franklin Runyon Sousley. The five Marines were a part of Easy Company, 28th Marines, 5th Marine Division. Strank was a sergeant, Block was a corporal who reported to Strank, and the rest of the Marines were privates first class. John Bradley was a Navy corpsman who administered first aid to Easy Company.

Henry Oliver Hansen

Henry Oliver "Hank" Hansen was a United States Marine Corps sergeant who was killed in action during the Battle of Iwo Jima in World War II. He was a member of the patrol that captured Mount Suribachi, where he helped raise the first U.S. flag on Iwo Jima on February 23, 1945. He was killed six days later.

Louis R. "Lou" Lowery was a United States Marine Corps captain. He was the only Marine Corps combat photographer to cover six major campaigns during World War II. He is best known for taking the first photographs of the first American flag that was raised on top of Mount Suribachi during the Battle of Iwo Jima on the morning of February 23, 1945.

Ernest Ivy Thomas Jr.

Ernest Ivy "Boots" Thomas Jr. was a United States Marine Corps platoon sergeant who was killed in action during the Battle of Iwo Jima in World War II. He was awarded the Navy Cross for extraordinary heroism while fighting for and at the base of Mount Suribachi. Two days later he was a member of the patrol that captured the top of Mount Suribachi where he helped raise the first U.S. flag on Iwo Jima on February 23, 1945. He was killed eight days after that.

Iwo Jima may refer to:

<i>Shadow of Suribachi</i>

Shadow of Suribachi: Raising The Flags on Iwo Jima (1995) is a book released during the 50th anniversary of the flag-raising(s) atop Mount Suribachi on Iwo Jima during World War II which was written by Parker Bishop Albee, Jr. and Keller Cushing Freeman. The book mainly examines the controversy over the identification of the flag-raiser who was positioned at the base of the flagpole in Joe Rosenthal's Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima photograph of the second flag-raising on February 23, 1945.

Charles W. "Chuck" Lindberg was a United States Marine Corps corporal who fought in three island campaigns during World War II. During the Battle of Iwo Jima, he was a member of the patrol that captured the top of Mount Suribachi where he helped raise the first U.S. flag on the island on February 23, 1945. Six days later, he was wounded in action.

<i>Letters from Iwo Jima</i> 2006 film by Clint Eastwood

Letters from Iwo Jima is a 2006 Japanese-language American war film directed and co-produced by Clint Eastwood, starring Ken Watanabe and Kazunari Ninomiya. The film portrays the Battle of Iwo Jima from the perspective of the Japanese soldiers and is a companion piece to Eastwood's Flags of Our Fathers, which depicts the same battle from the American viewpoint; the two films were shot back to back. Letters from Iwo Jima is almost entirely in Japanese, despite being produced by American companies DreamWorks Pictures, Malpaso Productions and Amblin Entertainment. After Flags of Our Fathers flopped at the box office, Paramount Pictures sold the U.S. distribution rights to Warner Bros. Pictures.

Harold Schultz United States Marine

Harold Henry Schultz was a United States Marine corporal who was wounded in action during the Battle of Iwo Jima in World War II. He was a member of the patrol that captured the top of Mount Suribachi and raised the first U.S. flag on Iwo Jima on February 23, 1945. He is one of the six Marines who raised the larger replacement flag on the mountaintop the same day as shown in the iconic photograph Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima.

Harold Keller United States Marine

Harold Paul Keller was a United States Marine corporal who was wounded in action during the Bougainville campaign in World War II. During the Battle of Iwo Jima, he was a member of the patrol that captured the top of Mount Suribachi and raised the first U.S. flag on Iwo Jima on February 23, 1945. He is one of the six Marines who raised the larger replacement flag on the mountaintop the same day as shown in the iconic photograph Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima.

Chandler Wilce Johnson was a highly decorated United States Marine Corps lieutenant colonel. He served as the commanding officer of 2nd Battalion, 28th Marines during the battle of Iwo Jima, leading his battalion in capturing Mount Suribachi which later led to the flag being raised over Iwo Jima. He was killed in action one week after the flag raising and was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross.

Dave Elliott Severance was a United States Marine Corps colonel. During World War II, he served as the commanding officer of Easy Company, 2nd Battalion, 28th Marines and led his company in the battle of Iwo Jima. During the battle, Severance ordered his 3rd Platoon to scale Mount Suribachi and raise the flag at the summit.

References

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Bibliography