Flags of our Fathers

January 28, 2012 7 Min Read

Review by: Christopher Bligh

Plot: What’s it about?

After his Oscar winning effort with Million Dollar Baby, Clint Eastwood took on a challenge that would keep him behind the directors chair for two movies back to back giving the viewpoint of a war in history from two different perspectives and here the viewers see it from the American point of view. It’s a famous historical figure captured by one camera showing the Flags of our Fathers.

It’s present day and an older gentleman wakes up from a flashback while another tells a viewpoint of the origin of the Battle of Iwo Jima and the famous photograph that made one country believe that the war was theirs. There were only three survivors of the photograph (Ryan Phillipe, Adam Beach and Jesse Bradford) and while they’re being paraded and celebrated as heroes, there’s an effect inside all of them that makes it difficult to accept that title with all of what they’ve seen.

The film doesn’t go in the most straight forward of directions as it jumps from place to place, but Eastwood’s approach is a very good one with an audience that can stick with it from beginning to end for it provides a portrait that things aren’t always what they seem during the aftermath of a war such as WWII and certainly that the memorable picture wasn’t the first time the soldiers tried to raise that flag on Iwo Jima. It even shows three different reactions and all recall the horror they experienced along with the three different directions their lives went into after that famous picture was taken.

Like most recent war movies of this time, it’s shot beautifully with a touch of grainy film for the battle scenes and before and after Iwo Jima and Eastwood used the desaturation of color film and shows how random and crazy the war can be when a viewer can’t differentiate whether it’s an introduced character we’ve been introduced to earlier or just another soldier. It’s when it comes back to the states that the film stays in it’s range of color without getting too loud.

The acting stays on an ensemble level with everyone staying on an equal level and the smart move on Eastwood’s part of the lack of main title credits so that the audience can note a few character actors that pop up within the film without expectation. Most notable among the three leads is Adam Beach as one brought back to be a boost for the country when he’s really battling the demons that he really wasn’t present for in the raising of that flag.

At first this viewer almost got a bit lost on the structureof the film, but it’s sticking with it that it does come together and Flags of our Fathers flies nicely to be a most interesting chapter with another in the form of Letters that this viewer is most interested in seeing from that perspective.

Video: How does it look?

Flags of our Fathers is presented in the 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen and like most of Clint Eastwood’s last few films does a nice job of composing the frame in the different time periods. As for the look on DVD, it provides a very good transfer keeping the use of color and the jittery nature of war intact and the clean look of the time without bleeding or oversaturation of color making for a nice balanced palette along with a very nice transfer.

Audio: How does it sound?

The Dolby Digital 5.1 track is most notable with balancing the score, the dialogue and the many effects surrounded in this film whether its the many explosions and gunshots of battle or the celebratory nature of men coming home from war filled with fireworks spread about by all the channels which makes it no surprise why this film is nominated predominantly in the sound category. All audio came out clearly and concisely from effects to talking and one that will be tough in a few weeks to top. This disc also has an English 2.0 surround and a French 5.1 surround along with English and Spanish subtitles.

Supplements: What are the extras?

Without even a scene selection menu, Flags of our Fathers is less than scarce when it comes to extras for the only notable ones come at the very beginning with a theatrical trailer for Letters From Iwo Jima and a DVD trailer for Babel. Though it provides a good anamorphic preview of 2 other Academy Award nominated films, it’s the closest thing (and sadly not even providing a trailer of Flags either) this disc has to any bonus features which comes as the disc’s biggest disappointment.

With the toil of battle and the even bigger toil of the after effects, Flags of our Fathers is a very good adaptation with a lot going on and Clint Eastwood’s approach that make it interwoven into a good web of history and behind the history as well. While the general settings of the film are solid, one hopes that a special edition along with it’s other perspective can do the film better justice on DVD in one big package.

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