Letters From Iwo Jima

War | Japanese with English subtitles | 140 minutes

Info

In 2005, Japanese archeologists on the island of Iwo Jima discovered a trove of letters written by  Japanese soldiers during the bloody battle on the island. Flash back to 1944.  Lieutenant General Tadamichi Kuribayashi arrives to take command. His job is to prepare the defenses of the island for the expected U.S. invasion. Kuribayashi orders the men to start digging underground tunnels in the interior mountains. Kuribayashi’s defense strategy is to allow U.S. marines to take the beaches. The mountain tunnels will provide a better chance to hold out until reinforcements arrive. Kuribayashi receives a message that reinforcements andKuribayashi commits suicide. Private Saigo,  fortunately,  decides to gather all the letters written by the soldiers during the battle, enclose them in metal containers, and bury them deep in the soil. Fast forward to 2005. As the archeologists read through all the letters they realize the heartbreak, the anguish,  these soldiers endured.

Cast
Ken Watanabe (Lieutenant General Tadamichi Kuribayashi) / Kazunari Ninomiya (Private First Class Saigo)
Why Stream This Film?

Letters from Iwo Jima portrays the battle from the perspective of the Japanese soldiers. Here’s what’s surprising: The film was far more commercially successful in Japan than in the U.S. receiving a warm reception from both Japanese audiences and critics. One Japanese reviewer noted that “Clint Eastwood presented Kuribayashi as a caring, erudite commander of Iwo Jima’s garrison along with the Japanese soldiers  in a sensitive, respectful way.”

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score (Critics Consensus): 91%
  • Metacritic Score: 89
Accolades
  • Academy Awards: Nominated, Best Picture; Best Director (Clint Eastwood); Best Screenplay (Iris Yamashita)
  • Golden Globe Awards: Winner, Best Foreign Language Film; Nominated, Best Director (Clint Eastwood)
  • Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards: Winner, Best Picture
  • AFI Awards: Winner, Movie of the Year
  • National Board of Review: Winner, Best Motion of Picture of the Year
LETTERS represents a genuinely imposing achievement, one that looks at war unflinchingly–that does not deny its necessity but above all laments the human loss it entails.
Todd McCarthy

VARIETY

Another masterwork from Clint Eastwood’s astonishing late period and one of the best war movies ever.
A.O. Scott

The New York 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.
Claudia Puig

USA Today

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