It is the most indelible image of the Pacific War – a moment in time caught on film of six men raising the U.S. flag on Mount Suribachi mere days into the vicious battle for the Japanese garrison of Iwo Jima, a desolate island of black sand beaches and sulfurous caves.
For the men caught in the photo, raising the flag is one small formality in the midst of a battle; but to those back home, the image of these men working together against devastating odds instantly reshapes the notion of a hero. It captivates an American public hungry for hope and weary of a seeming war without end.
The surviving “Flag Raisers” are pulled out of combat and sent back to the States to continue to serve their country – among crowds of adoring throngs brought together to be close to “true heroes” and write desperately-needed checks to fund the war effort. Only three make it back alive – John Bradley (Ryan Phillippe), a Navy Corpsman; Ira Hayes (Adam Beach), a publicity-shy Native American; and Rene Gagnon (Jesse Bradford), a wartime messenger who avoided firing his weapon.
The three play the hero role to perfection – tirelessly touring the country, shaking the right hands, speaking the right words into microphones – as the very power of their image rescues the flagging war effort. But inwardly, they find that along with their friends and brothers felled in combat, a part of their souls will never leave the black soils of Iwo Jima.
Directed by two-time Academy Award-winning director Clint Eastwood, “Flags of Our Fathers” is a powerful exploration of war, an intimate story of friendship and courage, survival and sacrifice against the chaotic backdrop of the battle of Iwo Jima, the film captures a moment in time and the impact that moment had not only on the country, but on the men captured within the camera’s lens.
Viewers under 12 not allowed (K-12)
Forum Cinemas AS - ESTONIA