Flags of Our Fathers Review - full version
First off, it’s been a couple of years since I read the book, but I do remember that it was not an easy story to tell in a narrative, and that comes through in movie. It’s clear the filmmakers struggled to resolve the two main storylines, that of the Battle of Iwo Jima and the flag-raising, and that of the surviving flag-raisers’ Victory Bond tour several months later. What they came up with was to interweave the two stories, jumping back and forth between them at points of connection. At times, this technique works very well, showing how the Marines could not leave the war behind, even when ensconced in luxury and waited on hand and foot. It can also be a useful way to stress the emotion of what the men had to go through, both on the island and back in the States. At other times, however, it’s jarring and disorienting, even for someone like me who has a pretty good knowledge of the battle and the war in general. My companion, who does not have that advantage, found herself constantly unable to follow the movie, and basically checked out as a result. The biggest problem here, I think, is that the filmmakers don’t just jump around between the two storylines, but also within the storylines, making it all that much harder to know exactly where and when you are watching. After a while, you begin to wonder if maybe they should have just gone with a chronological storyline, and let everything else play out on its own.
This editing becomes more problematic towards the end of the film, as the
Before it sounds like I absolutely hated the movie, I didn’t. In fact, overall, I’d say I liked it, but at least the final third left an unpleasant taste in my mouth. Before that, however, there was much to like about it. The visual effects during the war scenes are outstanding. The use of CGI is about as seamless as I’ve ever seen it, and as a result, the experience of the battle scenes is striking. It easily approaches the experience of Saving Private Ryan, and at times might even surpass it. And like I said before, the connection the film makes between what the men experienced on
So while the movie may have been a disappointment (OK, I had pretty high expectations going in, so maybe that was inevitable on some level), I would still recommend seeing it, especially for the historical perspective. Just be prepared to have to pay close attention to the various storylines, and to suffer a bit towards the end.