Flags’ soars as high as any war flick can

Bridget Nordquist

Bridget Nordquist

War films have been a huge genre since the advent of cinema. With any popular genre, moviegoers are regularly treated to a variety of big-budget films, from greats like “Saving Private Ryan” to movies that got blown to bits “Pearl Harbor” style. Most recently, Clint Eastwood’s “Flags of Our Fathers” marched to the box office and consequently won a victory for the majority of critics, including me.

The story grabbed me from the opening credits and held on for two-plus hours. The intriguing plot revolves around true events surrounding of the raising of the flag on Iwo Jima during World War II – resulting in the famous photo and memorial. The film is based on the book of the same name by James Bradley and Ron Powers. Eastwood adapts the book into a fascinating tale involving a well-known, but apparently little understood, American icon.

The film follows the three surviving soldiers in the photo after the battle. These three soldiers are beautifully portrayed by Ryan Phillippe, Jesse Bradford and Adam Beach. We meet the soldiers through a complex series of flashbacks and flash-forwards that follow them through the Battle of Iwo Jima, their following campaign to garner support for the war and their later lives. Adam Beach, also seen in “Windtalkers,” is a particularly interesting character. He plays Marine Ira Hayes, an American Indian who helped hoist that well-known flag, whose story had me in tears by the end of the film.

I enjoyed “Flags of Our Fathers” as much as a person can enjoy a movie that depicts the horrors of war and the pain that it wreaks. Eastwood does not shy away from showing any and all brutal action that occurs in the thick of battle. If you thought that “Saving Private Ryan” was graphic, be prepared for “Flags,” which by my estimation is even gorier. The film easily earns its R-rating. However, this action succeeds all too well in typifying the experiences of too many na’ve young soldiers who participated in World War II.

Definitely make an effort to see “Flags of our Fathers.” Even if you are not a fan of war films, I believe this one is well-done and an important narrative for Americans to understand. It will certainly open your eyes in both shocking and touching ways.