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Letters from Iwo Jima Review

Movies.com Critics

5.0

Dave White Profile

… unsentimental, moving … Read full review

Other Critics provided by Metacritic.com

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 5.0
    89

    out of 100

    Metascore®
    Universal acclaim
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 100

    out of 100

    USA Today Claudia Puig

    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 in Letters From Iwo Jima.

    Read Full Review

  • 100

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Lisa Schwarzbaum

    Clint Eastwood's profound, magisterial, and gripping companion piece to his ambitious meditation on wartime image and reality, "Flags of Our Fathers."

    Read Full Review

  • 100

    out of 100

    Wall Street Journal Joe Morgenstern

    The view taken by Clint Eastwood, directing from Iris Yamashita's exemplary screenplay, is elegiac, but -- and this is remarkable, given the nature of the production and the sweep of his ambition -- not at all didactic. He lets the film speak for itself, and so it does -- of humanity as well as primitive rage and horror on both sides of the battle.

  • 100

    out of 100

    Chicago Tribune Michael Phillips

    The word masterpiece costs nothing to write and means less than nothing in an age when every third picture and each new Clint Eastwood project is proclaimed as such. After two viewings, however, Letters From Iwo Jima strikes me as the peak achievement in Eastwood's hallowed career.

    Read Full Review

  • 90

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter Kirk Honeycutt

    Now Eastwood turns on a dime and tackles not just his first war movie but two war movies of considerable scope and complexity. If he doesn't nail everything perfectly, he nevertheless has created a vivid memorial to the courage on both sides of this battle and created an awareness in the public consciousness at a most opportune moment about how war feels to those lost in its fog.

    Read Full Review

  • See all Letters from Iwo Jima reviews at Metacritic.com

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 16+

Eastwood offers a profound perspective on WWII.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this war drama deals with a very serious subject: the defeat of soldiers who know they'll die and that their cause is lost. Thanks to that and the fact that it's deliberately paced and spoken entirely in Japanese (with English subtitles), it will likely appeal only to older teens. The explosive action scenes include brutal battles with shootings, stabbings, and the use of flamethrowers -- resulting in dismemberment, beheading, burning, bloody injuries, and general chaos. Some wounded soldiers appear in distress, and U.S. Marines take and abuse prisoners. A dog is shot off screen (kids can be heard crying), and a beloved horse is killed in an explosion. A character dies of dysentery (off screen, though he's sick for some time). A couple of soldiers write letters home that reveal their awareness of their imminent bad ends. Characters smoke cigarettes, and officers drink in flashbacks.

  • Families can talk about the dedication shown by the Japanese soldiers -- to their nation and sense of cause, and, more immediately, to their commander. How does the movie connect this dedication to their previous experiences? How is their behavior different from that of the U.S. soldiers in Flags of Our Fathers? How does this movie draw connections between history and current events? How does the film argue against war, even as it admires national pride and individual soldiers' bravery? How is the Japanese perspective (filtered through director Clint Eastwood's U.S. lens) different from one that might be considered strictly American? Is there such a thing as the "true" version of history?

The good stuff
  • message true0

    Messages: The soliders are mostly noble, though they're confronted by impossible orders, expected to commit suicide rather than surrender (with an eye to future honor); some soldiers (including Americans) are plainly overzealous and weary, killing out of frustration.

What to watch for
  • violence false5

    Violence: Frequent conversation about death and suicide; captain beats his men to make them work harder; battle images are rough, with explosions and bodies flying, as well as close-range stabbings and shootings; Japanese soldiers kill themselves by holding grenades to their chests (explicit effects); a horse is found dead following a bombing raid; blood effects are jarringly red, as most other imagery is in washed-out greys and blues.

  • sex false0

    Sex: Flashback discussion of Hanako's pregnancy (Saigo leans into her belly and speaks to their child).

  • language false0

    Language: One use of "s--t," in subtitles.

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: Not an issue

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false3

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Cigarette smoking; occasional, formal drinking by officers.

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