Saturday, November 04, 2006

Guest Post: Flags of Our Fathers

(Sorry tater, I just found this in my giant bulk mail folder!)

"Flags of Our Fathers", Movie review by Tater

"Had the privilege of seeing "Flags of Our Fathers" this past Friday (Oct. 13th) on base. The producers allowed for special free pre-view, to military audiences across the nation. The movie opens to the general public this Friday 20 Oct.

I greatly enjoyed the movie. It tells the story of the "Heroes of Iwo Jima", the three surviving members of six who raised the US flag on Mt Suribachi. The photo of that flag raising became world famous, and was sculpted into the Marine Corps memorial located in Washington DC . It is probably the most famous war-time photographs ever taken. What many Americans don’t know is the "story behind the story", which is that the famous photograph was of the second flag raising on Iwo . The first flew for only a short time, when one of the commanders ordered it down to be replaced by a larger flag. He wanted to preserve the original, and have a flag large enough for ships near by to see. No one thought much about it at the time when AP reporter Joe Rosenthal snapped the photo, but weeks later when the picture made nearly every front page in the nation, things dramatically changed for those in the photo.

The nation at the time (which the movie accurately portrays) was in a dark era. We had been at war for over three years. D-Day and the battle of the Bulge were over and victorious, but had ground up thousands of men and billions of dollars. In the Pacific matters were far worse. The recently fought battle of Tarawa was the bloodiest in the entire war, Iwo Jima itself killed nearly 7,000 Americans and wounded 20,000 more. Okinawa loomed in the near future and the invasion of Japan was estimated to cost over a million American dead (our estimate, Japs estimate was higher). No one knew of the Atomic bomb and many questioned whether the unconditional surrender of Japan was worth the cost. America kept winning the battles, but the cost was bleeding us dry of blood and bullion.

Enter the heroes of Iwo , who the power that were decided would be the perfect candidates for a War Bond drive. At the time, the nation was near bankruptcy and depended on borrowing money from the citizens (via war bonds) to keep the war effort afloat. Movie stars and other celebrities were recruited to make appearances and the idea of genuine war heroes from the battlefield seemed irresistible. The problem? Mt. Suribachi fell on the fifth day of the battle, but the battle itself lasted 35 days. By the time the order went out to bring the heroes home, three in the photo had already been killed in the battle, and several of those who raised the first flag had also been killed. Who raised what when was mixed up and the deceased in the photo were mis-labled. The three young troops (one Navy, two Marines) that toured the nation were indeed in the photo and became celebrities. The Movie does a great job of panning from the celebrity tour back to the actual battle (via flash backs). Battle scenes were excellent and show what happened to the other heroes who didn’t survive. I particularly liked the strafing scenes where the camera is in the cockpit of an F-4U Corsair looking out of the nose of the aircraft--reminded me of my old A-10 days strafing in Europe twenty years ago—very realistic.

The movie did take some liberties, but I thought portrayed the flag raising story and battle of Iwo accurately. I’d definitely say it’s a movie to be seen on the big screen, and would rate it mandatory for anyone who ever wore a Marine uniform. It is after all your heritage.

And yes, I’m keeping my day job, know very well I’ll never make it as a movie critic!!!

Later

Tater

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