Monday, February 19, 2007

Letters from Iwo Jima

There is a colorless sense of drag when one watches war movies. Along with it brought thoughts of how worthless wars are and why would humans want to exterminate each other, all in the name of honor, pride and brotherhood, when they do not even know the significance of the war itself.

I watched "Letters from Iwo Jima" last night. And as usual, I was very affected by war movies. In fact, the more I read about the battle on the tiny island of Iwo Jima, the heavier the colorless sense of drag became. Such a huge loss of lives, so many people died. Husband, brothers, fathers, sons, all of the men there were part of someone else.

The Americans had to capture the island as a base and they were sparing no efforts to take over Iwo Jima. The Japanese knew this and they also were sparing no efforts either to defend their mother soil, no matter that the soil were just dark volcanic sand and the tiny island was and is to date, a bare piece of land with Mt Suribachi on it. Instead of fortifying their defenses above ground, the Japanese dug deep into the island and made a very excellent defense from below, a genius tactic came up by the admirable General Tadamichi Kuribayashi.

There was just one catch. The 22,000 Japanese soldiers were told that they were on their own, there would be no reinforcements from their headquarters. The war was already coming to an end and Tokyo already had her hands full. They were told to fight till the end, to their deaths.

For the Americans, they basically found concrete with flesh. From the first time they landed on the beach, they could not see their enemy, who were fortified underground. They literally threw their brothers against the onslaught of mortars, bullets and assault that came from within the mountains. It was also during this battle that the famous scene of raising the American flag was captured.

Approximately 28,000 men lost their lives during this battle, from both sides.

Through 2 films, Flags of Our Fathers and Letters from Iwo Jima , Clint Eastwood attempted to capture the thoughts, emotions and feelings of fighting on Iwo Jima from the sides of the Japanese and the Americans. I did not manage to catch the first film, which was a real pity but the latter film is excellent. Not just from the fact that this was one of the very few shows which portrayed Americans' enemies in a good light (we know how Americans like to cast Japanese, Germans, Russians as villains in most of their films) but also cos of the fact that it shows how ultimately, all the soldiers who fought were just basically normal men, with their families and they were no different from each other.

I love the show for the in-your-face kind of reality shocks that are being thrown to the audience. I have always thought that the Japanese were monsters during the WWII and for the first time, I realized that most of the soldiers who fought during the war also had no choice.

It made me realize that we are humans cos we are so much more, I may be a simple girl but I definitely know the meaning of fighting for your country.

1 comment:

vesance said...

Check out "Der Untergang" / "Downfall" as well.

"Triumph of the Will" might seem hauntingly familiar. Countries under dictatorship seem to model their national day rallies along similar lines.