movie film review | chris tookey

Letters from Iwo Jima

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  Letters from Iwo Jima Review
Tookey's Rating
5 /10
Average Rating
8.31 /10
Ken Watanabe , Kazunari Ninomiya, Shido Nakamura
Full Cast >

Directed by: Clint Eastwood
Written by: Iris Yamashita , from a story by Paul Haggis and Iris Yamashita

Released: 2006
Origin: US
Colour: C
Length: 141

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It's unprecedented, a sorrowful and savagely beautiful elegy that can stand in the company of the greatest antiwar movies.

(David Ansen, Newsweek)

Clint Eastwood's profound, magisterial, and gripping companion piece to his ambitious meditation on wartime image and reality, Flags of Our Fathers.

(Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly)

Eastwood's direction here is a thing of beauty, blending the ferocity of the classic films of Akira Kurosawa (Seven Samurai) with the delicacy and unblinking gaze of Yasujiro Ozu (Tokyo Story).

(Peter Travers, Rolling Stone)

A few scenes serve as hinges joining this movie to Flags of Our Fathers. While Letters From Iwo Jima seems to me the more accomplished of the two films - by which I mean that it strikes me as close to perfect - the two enrich each other, and together achieve an extraordinary completeness.

(A.O. Scott, New York Times)

Letters From Iwo Jima, takes audiences to a place that would seem unimaginable for an American director. Daring and significant, it presents a picture from life's other side, not only showing what wartime was like for our Japanese adversaries on that island in the Pacific but also actually telling the story in their language. Which turns out to be no small thing.

(Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times)

It takes a filmmaker possessed of a rare, almost alchemic, blend of maturity, wisdom and artistic finesse to create such an intimate, moving and spare war film as Clint Eastwood has done in Letters From Iwo Jima.

(Claudia Puig, USA Today)

The view taken by Clint Eastwood, directing from Iris Yamashita's exemplary screenplay, is elegiac, but - and this is remarkable, given the nature of the production and the sweep of his ambition - not at all didactic. He lets the film speak for itself, and so it does - of humanity as well as primitive rage and horror on both sides of the battle.

(Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal)

Letters isn't about numbers or the battle or even the morality of war. It's about the sanctity of life and how we value our own.

(Jack Mathews, New York Daily News)

Taken together, Eastwood's masterworks - two of the best films of 2006 - may be Hollywood's last word on World War II.

(Lou Lumenick, New York Post)

Letters from Iwo Jima isn't just the film that Eastwood wanted to make, but one that the film's producer Steven Spielberg had tried to make twice with Empire of the Sun and Saving Private Ryan.

(Stephen Saito, Premiere)

The word masterpiece costs nothing to write and means less than nothing in an age when every third picture and each new Clint Eastwood project is proclaimed as such. After two viewings, however, Letters From Iwo Jima strikes me as the peak achievement in Eastwood's hallowed career.

(Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune)

It has few stars familiar to Americans, and it shares with Pan's Labyrinth the rare distinction of being a mainstream commercial movie with subtitles.

(Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader)

Eloquent, bloody, and daringly simple.

(Ty Burr, Boston Globe)

One of the great war movies - or antiwar movies - of all time.

(Steven Rea, Philadelphia Inquirer)

Overall, the effect is presumably what Eastwood wanted: we are present at a momentous event, not watching a movie.

(Stanley Kauffmann, New Republic)

Letters isn't a fun night at the picture show. It's slow and gloomy and achingly tragic. But it's a truly impressive achievement both in moviemaking and in its understanding of history.

(Shawn Levy, Portland Oregonian)

Ironically, the challenge of directing a Japanese-language film with a non-English-speaking cast seems to have brought out the very best in Eastwood. His vision is alternately intimate and sweeping, his touch never seemed more light and sure, and several of his scenes are so delicate, dynamic and prototypically Japanese they could have been directed by Akira Kurosawa.

(William Arnold, Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

Clint Eastwood's Letters From Iwo Jima is his companion piece to Flags of Our Fathers and in almost every way is superior.

(Peter Rainer, Christian Science Monitor)

The special power of Eastwood's achievement is that, save for one indelible moment, the mutual recognition between sworn adversaries happens not on-screen, but later, as we piece the two films together in our minds.

(Scott Foundas, Village Voice)

The humanistic approach makes Eastwood's movie a war story for the ages.

(Marjorie Baumgarten, Austin Chronicle)

This is sentimentality of the best kind, a touching display of male bonding amid terror and aching loneliness worthy of Howard Hawks at his finest.

(Ken Fox, TV Guide)

For my money, Flags (however clunky) cuts more deeply, but Letters is more difficult to shake off. Together, they leave you with the feeling that even a just and necessary war is an abomination.

(David Edelstein, New York Magazine)

One of the most quietly devastating war movies of our time.

(Tim Robey, Daily Telegraph)

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