Saturday, October 28, 2006

Well, I meant to post about this the day I saw it, but one thing led to another and I waited a week. I saw that new movie last Saturday, Flags of Our Fathers, about the battle of Iwo Jima and the aftermath of that famous photograph on top of mount Suribachi. I anticipated it having a lot of violence, a lot of swearing, and very little adult content. For the most part that's what I got. The violence is emphasized just enough to be somewhere near accurate, but at the same time restrained enough for the viewer to get a sense that there is a lot more that is not being shown. Japanese soldiers simply do not look pretty after they've blown themselves up with grenades. There is of course a lot of language, including a great many vain uses of the Name, but I was not naive enough to be surprised by it, and except for a brief joke at the beginning, there's no naughty content. I was also satisfied that they represented the Indian member of the company without letting political correctness run amok. They portrayed the unusual liberties of speech that Marines customarily take with each other in a way that I can say was in accordance with my own experience.
I watched the movie from a rather singular vantage point. Not a civilian, but not a combat veteran either, I felt as though I were standing in a doorway between two rooms: I was not fully in either room, but I was able, if so asked, to give each room something of a perspective on the other.
Civilians watching this movie might be a little disillusioned, or at any rate somewhat surprised. It's not mainly about the battle for the island, but about the publicity campaign through which the surviving two Marines and a Corpsman were put through in order to boost national morale and sell war bonds. As such, it is not what you would usually expect from a war movie, but it is interesting that sixty years after it ended, there are still aspects of military life in WWII that are only just now being brought up in a major way. I still regret not having done anything serious in Iraq, but at least now I can be grateful I was not accidentally in some famous photograph.

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