Movie Review: “Letters from Iwo Jima”

I watched this movie as a follow-on to the “Flags of Our Fathers.” This movie takes on stories from the Japanese side. Many unwilling sons and fathers were drafted from the Japanese homes to fight the war in the name of Emperor. It’s not all obedience and sacrifice that we were often told of the Japanese people; they’re human playing the roles of fathers, sons, husbands to their own families. The fears and hopelessness seen on the eyes of the many soldiers while fighting the battle and committed suicides or surrender are no different than Americans or any other people.

The central characters are General Tadamichi Kuribayashi, an US-educated general and a soldier who was taken away from his bakery profession and anxious to see his own daughter who was born after his being drafted to fight the war. The letters were hidden in a tunnel buried by the soldier. Another character is this military police that went against his superior’s command to kill the dog to a father-less family. Though he eventually surrendered to the US but was executed anyway, highlighting the cruelty and senselessness of the war.

As expected, the Japanese military would abide by their honor and would commit suicide instead of surrender. There are many suicide scenes by grenades, self-inflicted wounds, rushing toward the rain of machine gun bullets (Banzai Charge).

The war scenes look just like the ones from “Flags of Our Fathers.” The producers (Clint Eastwood) probably save lots of money by making two movies out of one same setting. But it’s hard to imagine there were so many tunnels (11 miles) and trenches in such a small island.

It’s good and yet sad to see the reality of the war from the perspective of the Japanese people. They were no less the victims of the war to conform and follow the wills of the powerful military command at the top. Let it be the lesson for the new found democracy of world that we the people will not tolerate the lies and whims of the few blind leaders.