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Clint Eastwood revisits familiar territory with LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA, a companion piece to his critically-acclaimed World War II drama FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS. Where the two films differ is in their version of events; FLAGS... is told from a predominantly American point-of-view, whereas LETTERS offers the Japanese perspective. With American forces on their way, General Kuribayashi (Ken Watanabe, THE LAST SAMURAI) arrives on the island to find his troops woefully under-trained and hopelessly outnumbered. With no sign of reinforcements, these men have little chance of surviving the imminent onslaught. At one point, Saigo (Japanese pop and television star Kazunari Ninomiya), a young soldier shovelling trenches asks, Am I digging my own grave? Indeed, it is he and General Kuribayashi who provide the emotional centre of the film, giving a glimpse into the minds of both drafted novices and seasoned officers. Eastwood doesnt deal in simple heroes and villains; these characters are sympathetic and real, whether their motives are pride, fear, or loyalty to their country. As youd expect from Eastwood, the battle scenes are breathtaking and brutal, but its the actors who are at the core of the film. Tom Sterns cinematography is equally impressive; his palette of taupes and greys create a desolate volcanic landscape thats hell on earth for the stationed soldiers but starkly beautiful for the audience. LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA has all the standard tropes found in modern war films-- the abuse of power, gruesome battle scenes, etc.--but Eastwood goes beyond the war-movie boilerplate, delivering a film that finds humanity even in the inhumanity of war.