Starring: Watanabe Ken, Ninomiya Kazunari, Ihara Tsuyoshi, Kase Ryo.
Clint Eastwood's second of two movies based on the Battle of Iwo Jima, the other being Flags of our Fathers, this movie tells the Japanese side of the story.
Although Watanabe's name is credited first, Ninomiya's Saigo carried a lot of the screen time. Saigo was a happily married baker with a pregnant wife when he was drafted into the Imperial Japanese Army to fight at Iwo Jima and protect the island, or something.
General Kuribayashi, played by Watanabe was born to a Samurai family. This guy really existed and he studied for a period of time at Harvard. Yes, that Harvard.
This movie basically tells the Japanese side of the story, how they fought, how they lived in the caves. Awfully realistic and many brutal suicides were shown. The Japanese stuck to their seppuku, in a more modern form. Since grenades are used instead of cutting their stomachs open the samurai way. Bad health conditions and the lack of food and water befell the Japanese way before the battle really began. The situation only got worse when the Americans started the attack.
Saigo's character is fictional but the big names in the story are mostly people who really lived and fought on Iwo Jima. Since this is a war movie, and we all know war movies are complicated as well, what more to say one without subtitles and is in Japanese. So I will not talk about the content.
If you have a Japanese movie you want to release in the States, first, you HAVE TO have Watanabe Ken starring in it.
Next, the movie must be about war, honour, samurais or geishas.
I am not kidding. Number one, The Last Samurai, Watanabe - check, war+ honour + samurais - check.
Memoirs of a Geisha, Ken - check, war + geishas - check.
Letters from Iwo Jima, Ken - check, war + honour - check.
The secret to internationally released Japanese or Japan-related movies.
This is a sad movie. Why are they so many sad movies lining up for me to watch? Why do I always choose the sad movies? Okay, I was expecting a powerful, touching movie, since this is a war movie, like many war movies, this is everything you expect of it and more. You come out from the movie feeling like you are the luckiest person. You have a roof above your head, you have a pc, you have sufficient food. What more can you ask for?
But the enlightenment only last for a day, two at the most.
A picture from 1945, the American flag was raised at Iwo Jima, on Mount Suribachi.
*I claim no credit for the screencaps or pictures.