A critical analysis of American War Films

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A critical analysis of American War Films

Category: Evaluation Essay

Subcategory: Film and Theater

Level: Academic

Pages: 2

Words: 550

A critical analysis of American War Films
Clint Eastwood’s films, Flags of Our Fathers and Letters from Iwo Jima, challenge the familiar narrative of most war films that are centered on America’s patriotism, heroism, and civilization. The films highlight events in the World War II between America and Japan. Predominantly, the Flags of Our Fathers focuses on the memory of the war as it follows the lives of the soldiers that planted the iconic American flag on the island of Iwo Jima. On the other hand, Letters from Iwo Jima is a sequel that gives the Japanese depiction of the war as it centers on archived letters of soldiers in the war.
Letters from Iwo Jima showed the uncivilized tactics and cruelty of American soldiers in killing the Japanese soldiers even after the soldiers surrender. Clint depicted this emotional expression of doubt using a close-up shot of a dialogue between two Japanese soldiers who contemplate suicide rather than being caught by the American soldiers. Similarly, Flags of Our Fathers depict how the U.S. government discriminates the surviving soldiers of the war who helped hoist the American flag in a foreign land. Clint uses flashbacks of the soldiers during the war and ironically contrasts this heroic image with the resentment and bad treatment the soldiers are receiving after being on the front line of battle defending their country.
Flags of Our Fathers play down the tactical prowess and heroism of American soldiers as it demonstrates how the ambushed soldiers run up and about as they struggle to search for cover from a hail of bullets from the Japanese soldiers. Throughout this scene, the camera shots and angles stick close to the soldiers following every move. These film techniques grabs and heighten the viewers’ attention in the devastating moments that leads to thousands of deaths of American soldiers by Japanese soldiers who were not as highly equipped militarily than them.
On the other hand, Letters from Iwo Jima focuses more on the courage and resilience of soldiers who persevere starvation and dysentery in their underground tunnels to fight the American soldiers. Close shots of the Japanese soldiers depict them dying from dysentery while still holding tight to their guns, an act that shows the ethic that governs their duty to defend their country. Similarly, a flashback scene shows one of the soldiers spending time with his family, an image that puts more prominence in life than death and prevents him from committing suicide.
The brutal rather than the glamorous nature of the war was vividly demonstrated in both films in focused camera shots detailing the explosion of arms and legs of the soldiers. Clint also used a black and white background footages to depict the horrifying experiences of the war on the lives of the soldiers. The viewer is left to imagine if any living thing could survive the charred and scorched environment of the battlefield, with camera shots colored in orange-red showing piles of bodies of American soldiers amid sprays of blood. Some of the soldiers’ bodies lay face down as the water from the beach splash over their blood-soaked combats.
Both films show different perspectives of the wars that help the viewers to understand the grave implications of actual war scenarios. The films changed the perception of American war that films often glamorize expeditions and invasions against their enemies and shows that in wars, there are casualties from both the winners and losers. Unlike other war films, these two films focus on the impact of wars on the soldiers and the society rather than the battle itself. Finally, the films provide a platform where war films can be critiqued for their content by the scholarly world, viewers, and filmmakers.