In 2006, renowned actor/director Clint Eastwood presented two critically acclaimed WWII companion films about the Battle of Iwo Jima, approaching the same battlefield from two different perspectives. On the Japanese side, Letters from Iwo Jima
recalls the final days of the Japanese soldiers stationed at Iwo Jima through the letters they left behind. On the American side, Flags of Our Fathers
follows the soldiers who raised the American flag on Mount Suribachi in the iconic picture that came to symbolize Iwo Jima in the United States. While both films carry strong, starkly human messages about the devastation of war and the heroes that come of them, Flags of Our Fathers
makes a further statement about the politics and psychological aftermath of war, a message that is particularly poignant in light of the current state of the world.
The film occupies two time lines, jumping back and forth between the intense explosions and gunfire of the Battle of Iwo Jima and the soldiers' no less taxing post-war experience in the States. The flag is raised on February 23, 1945, the fourth day of the campaign, and of the six soldiers pictured, three would die on the island in the line of duty. The remaining three - John Bradley (Ryan Phillippe), Rene Gagnon (Jesse Bradford), and Ira Hayes (Adam Beach) - are welcomed home as heroes, and then reluctantly paraded around the country on a government public relations campaign. Angry, frustrated, guilt-ridden, and embarrassed, the men must carry the emotional scars of war, and the burden of a government-exploited heroism. Flags of Our Fathers is based on the bestselling novel by James Bradley, son of John Bradley, with a screenplay co-written by Paul Haggis (Crash).