Feature

Flags of Our Fathers

Iwo Jima veterans are reluctant to call themselves heroes.

Everyone in America should see Flags of Our Fathers, said Richard Roeper in the Chicago Sun-Times. Especially 'œyounger generations who think of World War II as some dusty piece of black-and-white history.' It tells the story behind that famous photograph of the flag-raising at Iwo Jima in 1945. Moments after a first, smaller flag came down, photographer Joe Rosenthal captured six men planting a second, larger flag. The three 'œheroes' who survived the rest of the battle were then sent on a publicity tour to promote war bonds. Rene Gagnon (Jesse Bradford) loved the attention, Doc Bradley (Ryan Phillippe) felt anguish that the full truth behind the flag-raising was not being revealed, and Ira Hayes (Adam Beach) drank himself into a stupor. Clint Eastwood's movie follows the tour in one story line, portrays the horrific battle for Iwo Jima in a second, and documents Bradley's son's investigation of the event in a third. That 'œmultiplicity of story lines leads to panoramic breadth, as opposed to dramatic depth,' said Michael Phillips in the Chicago Tribune. The only character we get a real sense of is Hayes, while Bradley and Gagnon become cartoons. The rest of the movie is filled with 'œclichés about the ambiguous nature of heroism,' said Michael Sragow in the Baltimore Sun. Eastwood takes a vivid, poignant story and dilutes its meaning with nostalgia and overstatement.

Rating: R

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