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Flags of Our Fathers is an American war film that takes place before, during, and after WWII. In this film we see the effects of war on three soldiers who are given fame after taking an famous picture. During the film we see as they struggle to go on as they get flashbacks of their time during the war or PTSD. They also struggle with their newfound fame as well as going on without their fellow comrades. Directed by Clint Eastwood, it stars actors such as Ryan Philippe, Jesse Bradford, John Hickey, and Paul Walker. This is a very powerful film that despite containing some light humor, shows that life after war is a very difficult burden and it is extremely hard to go on. As for the film, Letters from Iwo Jima, we gain a second perspective from the Japanese from how they act, treat their soldiers, and fight in their side of the war. We learn that life also goes on for them despite everything.
From the very beginning we see our three protagonists: Ira, Rene, and Doc reflecting after their battle as they tour on a bond drive. During this time, we see them reminisce or go through PTSD. We see their story as they go through training in Hawaii until they are eventually sent to Iwo Jima. The battle then takes place and we see that many lives are lost including some of their friends. Despite everything, at the battle goes on, the soldiers raise the flag after an order. From there we see others being killed off slowly throughout the battle until it is finally over. After the war, these three survivors go through their own trials and tribulations despite being proclaimed as national heroes. For example, Ira begins facing discrimination for being Native American and begins to struggle with alcoholism. In one scene we even even see a drunk Ira attacking police officers after being refused service simply for being Native American, despite being a national hero. After years pass, we learn of the fates of the three soldiers. Ira dies of exposure from a night of drinking, Doc lives the rest of his life as a janitor, and Rene attempts a career as a business man but fails. Doc, on his deathbed tells this story to his son and then a final scene of the men is shown.
This is a powerful film does have some very realistic scenes in it. For example, the post traumatic stress disorder that we see our heroes struggle with is shown all throughout the film. With Ira, we see his struggles with alcohol abuse, survivor’s guilt, and depression. Doc struggles with survivor’s guilt as well as with insomnia and so forth. Racism is also a thing that is still happening during that time. Ira is hit with the worst and we constantly see him receiving “jokes” that are actually just racist remarks. He is also the only person who is constantly attacked with with remarks that only identifies him by his race. Like when a senator tries speaking to him in his native language in a mocking way or when another person asks if his people are proud of him and so forth. This is also another film in which we see that the characters are portrayed as larger than life characters or epic characters, however, these characters do not really want to be portrayed this way. They just want to lead relatively normal lives. In another scene we see Ira who is working on a farm and is stopped by a family who wants to take a picture of him and the scene is honestly just very insulting to anyone in that situation.
Overall, we see in this film the horrors that these men went through and it almost seems to all have been in vain. Despite everything they were proclaimed national heroes. However, these men were not larger than life characters, they were just everyday men who wanted to lead normal lives. However, they were forced into the spotlight and had to go through all these trials dealing with PTSD and depression and social dysfunction and so forth.
As for those on the Japanese side. We see a patriotism there but people are more reluctant to go war. For them Japanese is not something that men go to willingly and we can see that there are no parades being thrown for those leaving but simply just a few parents waving their flag back and forth. As for their treatment we see that yes, American’s are hard on their soldiers but in reality it is nothing compared to the harsh treatment the Japanese imposed on theirs. For example, in one scene we see see a captain striking his soldiers because they were “conspiring unpatriotic words.” However, this is probably because the soldiers are in poor conditions and have not been few properly or given sufficient rest time. We also see a lot of yelling going on from superiors to lower ranked soldiers. However, we do see a soft side in the Japanese soldiers. In one scene we see a Japanese soldier conversing with an American soldier named Sam until Sam dies from his wounds. The Japanese lead a fierce battle but are eventually overpowered and killed except for a few who are just taken to a POW beach.
Overall, from both of these films it can be concurred that there are no true bad guys which is why these two films were so powerful. They show that each side has their own story and that neither of these people have larger than life characters but rather just everyday men and that is the magic of it all.
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