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Letters from Iwo Jima / Flags of Our Fathers (Five-Disc Commemorative Edition)

4.7 out of 5 stars 63 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

5 Disc Commemorative Collector's Edition includes Flags of Our Fathers 2-Disc Special Edition Letters From Iwo Jima 2-Disc Special Edition and bonus disc including 1) Heroes of Iwo Jima (History Channel documentary hosted by Gene Hackman) 2) To the Shores of Iwo Jima (Academy Award nominated 1945 UA short)


Flags of Our Fathers
Thematically ambitious and emotionally complex, Clint Eastwood's Flags of Our Fathers is an intimate epic with much to say about war and the nature of heroism in America. Based on the non-fiction bestseller by James Bradley (with Ron Powers), and adapted by Million Dollar Baby screenwriter Paul Haggis (Jarhead screenwriter William Broyles Jr. wrote an earlier draft that was abandoned when Eastwood signed on to direct), this isn't so much a conventional war movie as it is a thought-provoking meditation on our collective need for heroes, even at the expense of those we deem heroic. In telling the story of the six men (five Marines, one Navy medic) who raised the American flag of victory on the battle-ravaged Japanese island of Iwo Jima on February 23rd, 1945, Eastwood takes us deep into the horror of war (in painstakingly authentic Iwo Jima battle scenes) while emphasizing how three of the surviving flag-raisers (played by Adam Beach, Ryan Phillippe, and Jesse Bradford) became reluctant celebrities--and resentful pawns in a wartime publicity campaign – after their flag-raising was immortalized by Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal in the most famous photograph in military history.

As the surviving flag-raisers reluctantly play their public roles as "the heroes of Iwo Jima" during an exhausting (but clearly necessary) wartime bond rally tour, Flags of Our Fathers evolves into a pointed study of battlefield valor and misplaced idolatry, incorporating subtle comment on the bogus nature of celebrity, the trauma of battle, and the true meaning of heroism in wartime. Wisely avoiding any direct parallels to contemporary history, Eastwood allows us to draw our own conclusions about the Iwo Jima flag-raisers and how their postwar histories (both noble and tragic) simultaneously illustrate the hazards of exploited celebrity and society's genuine need for admirable role models during times of national crisis. Flags of Our Fathers defies the expectations of those seeking a more straightforward war-action drama, but it's richly satisfying, impeccably crafted film that manages to be genuinely patriotic (in celebrating the camaraderie of soldiers in battle) while dramatizing the ultimate futility of war. Eastwood's follow-up film, Letters from Iwo Jima, examines the Iwo Jima conflict from the Japanese perspective. --Jeff Shannon

On the DVDs
The two-disc special edition of Flags of Our Fathers offers a fine balance of behind-the-scenes production features and archival history. Disc 1 is entirely dedicated to Clint Eastwood's acclaimed wartime drama, paired with an abundance of special features on disc 2. First up is a three-minute introduction by Clint Eastwood, who explains his attraction to James Bradley's nonfiction bestseller, how he partnered with Steven Spielberg to coproduce this ambitious production, and the themes of wartime valor and misguided celebrity that he wished to illuminate. Next, author Bradley recalls the process of seeing his book translated to film (including interview clips with screenwriters William Broyles Jr. and Paul Haggis) and his involvement with the production as an authoritative consultant. In the 20-minute featurette "Six Brave Men," the actors who played the celebrated Iwo Jima flag-raisers speak about their characters, how they fit into the history of Iwo Jima, and the responsibility of honoring their memories with historically accurate portrayals. "The Making of an Epic" is a 30-minute behind-the-scenes documentary covering all aspects of production, from the decision to film in Iceland (where black volcanic sand matched the barren beaches of Iwo Jima) to the individual contributions of key personnel, most notably cinematographer Tom Stern, editor Joel Cox, costume designer Deborah Hopper, the late, great production designer Henry Bumstead, and Eastwood's longtime casting director, the late Phyllis Huffman. (The making-of feature is dedicated to Bumstead and Huffman, who both succumbed to cancer shortly after production was completed.) "Raising the Flag" (running a little over three minutes) focuses on the cast and crew's meticulous re-creation of the second Iwo Jima flag-raising, demonstrating the reverent care with which each soldier's movements were duplicated in exacting detail. "Looking into the Past" is a nearly 10-minute assembly of 1945 newsreel footage, showing many of the actual events that were dramatized in Eastwood's film, and demonstrating the impressive efforts that went into making Flags of Our Fathers as authentic as it could possibly be. The 15-minute "Visual Effects" featurette provides a detailed analysis of Digital Domain's diligent efforts to achieve convincing photo-realistic images in the film's epic-scale battle sequences, home-front bond rallies, and other sequences where CGI wizardry was required. The original theatrical trailer for Flags of Our Fathers is also included. --Jeff Shannon

Letters from Iwo Jima
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

On the bonus fifth disc is an A&E documentary Heroes of Iwo Jima from 2001 narrated by Gene Hackman, and "To the Shores of Iwo Jima," a 1945 short film that was Oscar-nominated for best documentary short.

Special Features

  • Letters from Iwo Jima (Two-Disc Special Edition)
  • "Red Sun, Black Sand: The Making of Letters from Iwo Jima": Led by Clint Eastwood, take an inside look at the creation of the film with many of the key players involved who brought this epic film together
  • "The Faces of War: The Cast of Letters from Iwo Jima": Cast members introduce the characters they portray in the film
  • Images from the Frontlines: The Photography of Letters from Iwo Jima
  • November 2006 world premiere at Budo-kan in Tokyo
  • November 2006 press conference at Grand Hyatt Tokyo
  • In Japanese with English, Spanish, and French subtitles
  • Flags of Our Fathers (Two-Disc Special Edition)
  • Introduction by Clint Eastwood
  • Words on the Page
  • Six Brave Men
  • The Making of an Epic
  • Raising the Flag
  • Visual effects
  • Looking into the Past
  • English and French audio, English and Spanish subtitles
  • Bonus fifth disc:
  • Heroes of Iwo Jima: A History Channel documentary hosted by Gene Hackman and featuring interviews with James Bradley, author of the best-selling Flags of Our Fathers
  • To the Shores of Iwo Jima: A 1945 Academy Award-nominated short film

Product Details

  • Directors: Clint Eastwood
  • Format: Box set, Closed-captioned, Collector's Edition, Color, Special Edition, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: Japanese (Unknown), English (Unknown)
  • Subtitles: English, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
  • Number of discs: 5
  • Rated:
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: May 22, 2007
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (63 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000P1XITE
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #70,649 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Letters from Iwo Jima / Flags of Our Fathers (Five-Disc Commemorative Edition)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By J. Bradley on April 10, 2007
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I'm really glad they're releasing the films in this two-film set. The films deserve to be examined back-to-back. It was a shame the distribution of the films in theatres couldn't be coordinated so the releases were closer together creating more of an "event" status around them. These films are a stark, striking, bold entry in the pantheon of World War Two movies (war movies in general for that matter). I've not seen a bolder attempt since Oliver Stone's Vietnam trilogy of films (Platoon, Born on the Fourth of July and Heaven and Earth (maybe this release of Eastwood's films will prompt them to give Stone's series a similar DVD treatment). The two films, very dramatically examine war on various fronts, not just the combat milieau.

The broader scope of Flags of Our Fathers and Letters from Iwo Jima - combined, are unique for the war film genre, and it will finally get the exposure it deserves and I hope more people discover the films via this release.
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Clint Eastwood has proven himself (if there was ever any doubt after Million Dollar Baby) to be a master filmmaker. With Mystic River and Million Dollar Baby under his belt (2 bonafide masterpieces), one wondered how he would top them. His answer was to direct not only one but TWO films about WWII (the other being Letters from Iwo Jima. To make 2 great films at 76 (back to back no less) is no easy feat. But to make 2 films of such depth, poetry, humanity, and poignancy is even more beautiful and moving. When you realise that 90 percent of what Hollywood puts out ranges from atrocious to mediocre, and then you watch these 2 magnificent films, it restores your faith in filmmaking and that even Hollywood, which has been maligned (quite rightly) over the last 30 years or so, can still contribute to film as an art form. Clint has been compared (rightly, I believe) to John Ford. There has been beauty and poetry galore in Clint's last 3 films in particular, and in many others as well. Ford's films also had that poetry and lyricism, and a depth that most filmmakers rarely posses. In these 2 films, there is poetry, subtlety, and substance to spare.

Flags of Our Fathers generally got mixed reviews from critics, and many were disappointed. Out of the two films, it was the one that most people disliked. I wasn't disappointed at all, and I think the film is a masterpiece. It is truthful, sad, cynical, heartbreaking, and yet, somehow uplifting in some ways. It centers on the offical lies about the famous Iwo Jima photograph.
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I always imagined that they would release these movies in one set. I believe that they are two of the best (and most emotional) WWII movies. I've read the discription and was pleased with the extras (I never previously bought Flags because there were absolutly no features to be found) and I hope they release them both on HD and Blu-Ray in one set. For those who have never seen these, Flags is a very poignant film but often felt stale in terms of flashbacks and characterization. However, Letters is easily the best and is one of my favorite war films of all time( along with Private Ryan, Apocalypse Now, Platoon, Band of Brothers, and Full Metal Jacket). Together, these films make one of the greatest WWII experiences of all time. Plus, 39.99 for a 5-disc set ain't half bad!
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With the magnificent double feature of FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS and LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA, producer/director Clint Eastwood has given viewers the greatest Memorial Day homage in movie history. I am reviewing a monumental five-disk set that needs to begin with disk five. It includes a brilliant 95 minute History Channel documentary, narrated by Gene Hackman, on America's battle in February 1945 to take Iwo Jima; and also includes an Oscar-nominated Technicolor short from 1945 called TO THE SHORE OF IWO JIMA. Do watch this first in an evening so that you have essential background for the main course Eastwood two-to-four night double bill.

Next watch the bonuses to LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA so that you can appreciate an American filmmaker who does not know Japanese making a subtitled Japanese-language war movie about the taking of this small Japanese island in the South Pacific. The cast for LETTERS is all Japanese and completely unknown to me, except for Ken Watanabe as a General. It is a relentlessly grim war film, filmed on Iwo Jima and on various Southern California locations, including military bases. The late Henry Bumstead's production design (with James Murakami) of snaking tunnels all over the island are a wonder, and Eastwood with cinematographer Tom Stern have conceived the movie in bleached out color that is almost black-and-white. The only real color are flame throwers. The Japanese believe in ceremony in life and honor in death; nothing is more glorious for them than to die heroically in a war for the glory of Japan, which is a philosophy that revulses me. So a 140 minute Japanese film with soldiers blowing themselves up or shooting themselves rather than be captured is a bit of a turn-off for me.
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