Oct 19, 2006

Party KC Picks Your Flick

Flags of Our Fathers
R, Drama, 2hrs 11min
Opens on October 20, 2006
Starring: Ryan Phillippe,
Jesse Bradford, Adam Beach

Clint Eastwood's Flags of Our Fathers uses a true story about World War II in order to make timely reminders about sacrifices in wartime. Jesse Bradford, Ryan Philippe, and Adam Beach play three soldiers who appeared in the famous photograph of American troops planting the flag on Iwo Jima. Eastwood economically establishes how this photo affected the mood of the country, but since his tone for the film is not particularly rah-rah he never indulges in the feelings of patriotism this famous image evokes - the characters feel it, but the audience does not. Instead Eastwood plunges the viewer into the harsh reality of the invasion.

The war footage in Flags of Our Fathers brings to mind the opening passage in Steven Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan, offering a grunt's eye view of the brutal human cost of war. The carnage becomes so commonplace that viewer must accept this new reality, just as the characters must. These brutal action sequences are intercut with the three soldiers on a homefront tour designed to help sell war bonds. The way the media and the government help shape public sentiment around them recalls certain sequences in The Right Stuff, but where Philip Kaufman's film about the early days of the space program plays those absurdities for comedy, Eastwood's downbeat tone plays those same ironies for tragedy.

The audience learns that veterans generally didn't talk about what they saw and what they did, but these three young men are forced to relive their experiences every night before adoring crowds. The survivor's guilt affects each of them differently, most notably Adam Beach as a young man so overcome that he begins drinking himself into oblivion. Beach carries the emotional weight of the film, and Eastwood's measured pacing gives him nowhere t