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Letters from Iwo Jima (Two-Disc Special Edition) (2007)

Ken Watanabe , Kazunari Ninomiya , Clint Eastwood  |  R |  DVD
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (334 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Ken Watanabe, Kazunari Ninomiya, Tsuyoshi Ihara, Shido Nakamura, Ryo Kase
  • Directors: Clint Eastwood
  • Writers: Paul Haggis, Iris Yamashita
  • Producers: Clint Eastwood, Steven Spielberg, Robert Lorenz, Paul Haggis
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: Japanese (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
  • Dubbed: Japanese
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: May 22, 2007
  • Run Time: 140 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (334 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005JPKE
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #15,018 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Letters from Iwo Jima (Two-Disc Special Edition)" on IMDb

Special Features

Documentaries: Red Sun, Black Sand: The Making of Letters from Iwo Jima The Faces of War: The Cast of Letters from Iwo Jima Images from the Frontlines: The Photography of Letters from Iwo Jima Documentaries: Red Sun, Black Sand: The Making of Letters from Iwo Jima The Faces of War: The Cast of Letters from Iwo Jima Images from the Frontlines: The Photography of Letters from Iwo Jima Documentaries: Red Sun, Black Sand: The Making of Letters from Iwo Jima The Faces of War: The Cast of Letters from Iwo Jima Images from the Frontlines: The Photography of Letters from Iwo Jima Documentaries: Red Sun, Black Sand: The Making of Letters from Iwo Jima The Faces of War: The Cast of Letters from Iwo Jima Images from the Frontlines: The Photography of Letters from Iwo Jima

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Letters From Iwo Jima: Special Edition (Dbl DVD) (WS)

Amazon.com

Critically hailed as an instant classic, Clint Eastwood's Letters from Iwo Jima is a masterwork of uncommon humanity and a harrowing, unforgettable indictment of the horrors of war. In an unprecedented demonstration of worldly citizenship, Eastwood (from a spare, tightly focused screenplay by first-time screenwriter Iris Yamashita) has crafted a truly Japanese film, with Japanese dialogue (with subtitles) and filmed in a contemplative Japanese style, serving as both complement and counterpoint to Eastwood's previously released companion film Flags of Our Fathers. Where the earlier film employed a complex non-linear structure and epic-scale production values to dramatize one of the bloodiest battles of World War II and its traumatic impact on American soldiers, Letters reveals the battle of Iwo Jima from the tunnel- and cave-dwelling perspective of the Japanese, hopelessly outnumbered, deprived of reinforcements, and doomed to die in inevitable defeat. While maintaining many of the traditions of the conventional war drama, Eastwood extends his sympathetic touch to humanize "the enemy," revealing the internal and external conflicts of soldiers and officers alike, forced by circumstance to sacrifice themselves or defend their honor against insurmountable odds. From the weary reluctance of a young recruit named Saigo (Kazunari Ninomiya) to the dignified yet desperately anguished strategy of Japanese commander Tadamichi Kuribayashi (played by Oscar-nominated The Last Samurai costar Ken Watanabe), whose letters home inspired the film's title and present-day framing device, Letters from Iwo Jima (which conveys the bleakness of battle through a near-total absence of color) steadfastly avoids the glorification of war while paying honorable tribute to ill-fated men who can only dream of the comforts of home. --Jeff Shannon

On the DVDs
Like the film itself, the two-disc special edition of Letters from Iwo Jima is predominantly Japanese in content, and that's as it should be. Disc 1 presents the film in a flawless widescreen transfer, with a Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround soundtrack that perfectly captures the film's wide dynamic range. The optional subtitles can be turned off for those wishing to immerse themselves in a completely Japanese viewing experience. Disc 2 opens with "Red Sun, Black Sand: The Making of Letters from Iwo Jima," a 20-minute behind-the-scenes documentary that concisely covers all aspects of production, from director Clint Eastwood's initial decision to create a companion piece to Flags of Our Fathers, to interview comments from principal cast and crew, the latter including Flags screenwriters Paul Haggis and Letters screenwriter Iris Yamashita, costume designer Deborah Hopper, editor Joel Cox, cinematographer Tom Stern, production designer James Murakami (taking over for the ailing Henry Bumstead), and coproducer Rob Lorenz. "The Faces of Combat" is an 18-minute featurette about selecting the Japanese (and Japanese-American) cast of Letters, and how they were chosen through the international collaboration of Eastwood's long-time casting director Phyllis Huffman (who turned over some of her duties to her son while struggling with terminal illness) and Japanese casting associate Yumi Takada, who filled important roles with Japanese celebrities (like pop star Kazunari Ninomiya, who plays "Saigo") and unknown actors alike.

"Images from the Frontlines" is a 3.5-minute montage of images from the film and behind-the-scenes, set to the sparse piano theme of Eastwood's original score. The remaining bonus features chronicle the world premiere of Letters in Tokyo on November 15, 2006. The premiere itself is covered in a 16-minute featurette taped at the famous Budokan arena, where we see the red-carpet procession, a full-capacity audience despite cold November weather, and introductory comments from the film's primary cast and crew, many of them quite moving with regard to the satisfaction of working on a film that helps Japanese viewers come to terms with a painful chapter of their history. The following day's press conference (at the Grand Hyatt Tokyo hotel) is a 24-minute Q&A session covering much of the same territory, with additional testimony from principal cast & crew. Throughout this two-day event, it's clear that Eastwood (referring to himself as "a Japanese director who doesn't speak the Japanese language") was warmly embraced by the Japanese, and that Letters from Iwo Jima had served its intended purpose, reminding us of the horrors of war while uniting both Japanese and Americans in somber reflection, 61 years after the battle of Iwo Jima. --Jeff Shannon


Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
232 of 250 people found the following review helpful
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Being a big Clint Eastwood fan, I attended "Flags of our Fathers" earlier this year expecting a monumental experience. Nothing could have surprised me more, however, with how disconnected I felt from that picture. It was a fascinating story and a nice tribute, but its awkward narrative framing and (more importantly) lack of genuine character development disappointed me. All I felt left with was a heavy-handed message with no real dramatic weight. I still looked forward to "Letters From Iwo Jima," however, intrigued by Eastwood's ambitions of portraying a Japanese perspective centered on the same event. Such a bold move makes me respect Eastwood even more. The film was rushed into release for the 2006 awards season when "Flags" failed to become a critical front-runner, and that decision seems to have paid off for the studio. Recognized by several major critic's groups, "Letters" also stands as a Best Picture candidate at the Academy awards.

Ironically, the aspect that left me unmoved with "Flags" is the strongest asset of "Letters"--and that is character development. Spending time with a handful of major characters, the film does a nice job fleshing them out in a real three-dimensional way. The film intimately examines their situation on Iwo Jima, the hopelessness, the strategizing. The interactions between the soldiers is well developed and genuine, and the incorporation of writing letters as a narrative device provides even more insight. We get to "hear" their thoughts and to explore their backstory. The moments that we step away from Iwo Jima in flashbacks are well integrated and provide a greater emotional context for their current situation.

As for plot, the film explores the American invasion of Iwo Jima.
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186 of 211 people found the following review helpful
This is a great movie, and a truly original one, although not for the reasons that have been previously offered up by movie critics and fans.

First off, although this movie does portray the Japanese side of the story of the Battle of Iwo Jima, it does not glorify their role in this movie, nor does it ignore the lessons of history served up by this battle. For the few critics of this movie who say that the Japanese soldiers got what they deserved, that the Japanese started WWII, and that this movie only brings in undeserved sympathy for those soldiers, I say, as an American and a reader of military history, perhaps, but look deeper into what this movie is REALLY saying.

Although American film critics have almost universally hailed this movie as an anti-war movie, this movie is in reality only an anti-bushido movie. The movie has been extremely popular in Japan, and I cannot but help think that its underlying messages serve only to work against the cause of the resurgent and revisionist right-wing nationalist elements in Japan today. As the samurai coda of bushido itself is also in resurgence in Japan today, this movie comes none too soon as an antidote.

The movie has two centers - one is on the fictional and very hapless ex-baker Saigo, who has been drafted into the Japanese Army as a common foot soldier; the other is the real-life portrayal of General Kuribayashi, the Japanese commander at Iwo Jima.

The movie makes clear how the rigid military discipline and samurai coda of bushido worked against the Japanese throughout the fight for Iwo Jima.
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35 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It Comes in Three's March 12, 2007
Letters From Iwo Jima depicts the Japanese side of the battle on Mount Suribachi. The film is an attempt to portray the humanistic qualities of Japanese soldier, and not so much focus on the ravage combat scenes that occurred on the island but rather the activities inside the crevasses of the caves that the soldiers occupied at an attempt to maintain Japanese possession of Mount Suribachi. There are similar battle scenes that were shown during Flags of Our Fathers, but the emphasis is the soldiers.

Eastwood focuses on two of the characters, General Tadamichi Kuribayashi (Ken Watanabe) and a baker and young soldier, Saigo (Kaizunari Ninomayi), and parallels their lives and to the war experience. Through short conversations and long silences and interactions between Japanese soldiers and American soldiers, Eastwood is effective in conveying the Japanese perspective. Certain scenes may shock and disturb viewers who are not familiar with the events that coincided with what occurred during the Pacific War - a war heavily fought with psychological warfare and propaganda in mind. For example, as Japanese soldiers talk about American soldiers they too describe them as savage and inhumane. Where have we heard that before? They were depicted in propaganda cartoons, which spread racist and jingoist fervor within the minds of those who believed it. But what is interesting about this film as well as Flags of Our Fathers is that both raises questions about morality, sacrifice, and brutality among enemy combatants as well as concerns of human rights during times of war.

Bottom line, Letters From Iwo Jima is revisionist history, which revises one's perception of Japanese and American soldiers during World War II.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Amazing and very incredible i love it
Published 3 days ago by Jim Nguyen
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb
Remarkable. My Dad was there as a U.S. Marine. Watch flags of our fathers first, then this.

It's exactly as my Dad described it. Read more
Published 8 days ago by Duncan Olaksik
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Very touchy and explains the view of the war from the Japanese side.
Published 12 days ago by T.C.Kao
5.0 out of 5 stars Letters From Iwo Jima
Fantastic! Also see "Flags of Our Fathers," directed by Eastwood and co-produced with Spielberg. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Lori Sandler
5.0 out of 5 stars I love it
Good movie
Published 1 month ago by Duane Murray
3.0 out of 5 stars Hi
It is in Japanese!!! I don't speak that language I barley speak English! Oh and it is a very long movie. Thank goodness for a pause button.
Domo Arigato Mr ROBOTO
Published 1 month ago by 50 year old toy collector/nerd
5.0 out of 5 stars It was a terrible event, I'm sure for everyone Axis or Allies
This movie gave me mixed feelings. On the one hand it does create pathos for the Japanese who defended Iwo, and tells their human story. Read more
Published 1 month ago by flynsteel
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Very good read.
Published 1 month ago by Malissa W. Anderson
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Movie!
See it with pacific and flags of our fathers.
Published 2 months ago by Michael Bonner
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Very well done perspective of Japanese during the battle of Iwo Jima in WW2.
Published 2 months ago by Robert E. Hohlt
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