Tuesday 24 April 2007

Flags of our Fathers

The other night I had a date. With my husband. And another friend, Peter. OK, not so much a date. We just got to go out without our children in two.

We went to see a film. We are fortunate to have the Windsor Arts Centre in Windsor. The centre has a small cinema which shows films not on wide release here in the UK but are really good. These tend to include a number of the foreign films and Oscar winners that weren't big screen hits (lots of them).

We saw Flags of our Fathers, the story of the taking of the island of Iwo Jima during the second World War from the American perspective. There is a second film, Tales of Iwo Jima, telling the same story from the Japanese perspective. It is showing on 24 May and we are hoping to have a babysitter for that one too. both films are directed by Clint Eastwood. He got the idea to make the second film during the research and filming of the first film when he realised there were two sides of the story that needed to be told.

Flags of our Fathers is about the events surrounding the iconic photograph of the marines and soldiers raising the flag on the island. I've seen the photograph thousands of times. It is an American symbol of all that is supposed to be strong and powerful and right about the American war effort in the second World War. This film told the true stories behind the men that were there, some who were thought to be there but weren't, and how the parent's of the families and the soldiers were treated. There were lots of things that I already knew but there was more in the film that I didn't know.
  1. The picture was taken during the second raising of a flag. The first flag was taken down because some general wanted it to hang on his wall.
  2. Different boys raised the second flag than the first flag.
  3. The flag was raised on day 5 but the battle raged on for another 35 days.
  4. America was nearly bankrupt and 6 previous war bond drives had failed to raise enough money to fund any war effort.
  5. Without the actions of the boys who travelled around using the photograph as propaganda in the bond drive, it is likely that sufficient money to fund the war effort would not have been raised.

I'm not good with blood and guts and there is significant gore in the film. I would look away during those bits and Marc would let me know when it was safe to look again. But other than that it was an excellent film and highly recommend it.

It did confirm in my mind that no leader should be elected to office with the power to send young (or old) men and women into battle without having done it themselves. I am beginning to think that unless you've fought in a war you should not be given the authority to make others fight. If the leaders of the countries of the world had fought or even had sons or daughters that have fought and died in war, we might have more peace and less bloodshed.

What an idealist/optimist I am this morning.....

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