Thursday, October 26, 2006
Heroes are hard to find fault with
A friend of mine recently told me he had seen "Flags of Our Fathers." He didn't like it.

Why?

"Because I didn't want to know," he replied.

That is, he didn't want to know that the flag-raising was actually the second that day, or how the Iwo Jima veterans had doubts about the way they were used for the war effort, or about the sad story of Ira Hayes. He wanted his heroes to remain whole. He wanted the efforts that surrounded them to be pure.

He wanted a John Wayne movie. An uncomplicated John Wayne movie.

I wonder how prevalent his opinion is. "Saving Private Ryan," somewhat revisionist in the gritty, bloody way it showed the horror of the Normandy landing, was still an old-fashioned war movie in many respects. "Flags" is more cynical. War comes in shades of gray. And warriors are only human.

"Private Ryan" was a huge box office success, making more than $200 million in North America. "Flags," though armed with good reviews, had a decent but not blockbuster weekend, making $10.2 million. Box office isn't the only yardstick of a film's success, but it doesn't hurt. I wonder how "Flags" will fare in the future. ...

This weekend features two wide openings -- "Saw III" and "Catch a Fire" -- and a number of limited releases, including "Babel," "Shut Up and Sing," "Death of a President" and "Conversations with God."

"Catch a Fire" stars Derek Luke and Tim Robbins as a wrongly accused, then radicalized South African workman and the police officer who enters his life. You can watch a behind-the-scenes video feature here (Windows Media) and here (Quicktime). (Both are links for high-speed connections.) "Saw III" is, well, more of the same. ...

More than a year ago, "Dilbert" cartoonist Scott Adams lost his voice. It wasn't laryngitis -- his voice simply stopped functioning. How he got it back is the subject of a fascinating post on his blog. ...

And let's have a moment of ominous silence for Tommy Johnson, the "Jaws" theme tuba player, who passed away October 16. He will be missed -- and he'll probably be coming up on "Wait Wait, Don't Tell Me" this weekend.
dont bash a movie you have not seen.
"War is hell"

That particular quote has resonnated for many decades. For the person who went to see the movie Flags of Our Fathers, and didn't like it, what did you expect?

I would urge him to go out and read the book, "Flags of Our Fathers" to read about the REAL heros of that battle.

My grandfather was a United States Marine, and he fought the Japanese on Iwo Jima. He drove the amtracs on the first day and was then assigned to a rifle company; he was a hero.

Yes, the famous picture taken by Joe Rosenthal was of the SECOND flag raising that day, and yes, the three surviving flag raisers were right to question the label of "hero" (though John "Doc" Bradley surely deserves it-read the book to find out why).

But the book (and the movie) encompasses the "esprit de corps" that all Marines shared, and still share. Those Marines knew that the fight for Iwo Jima would be costly (more casualties in 33 days of fighting than the entire 5 month campaign in Guadalcanal); they knew and still they fought on. Those are the TRUE heroes.

People today have forgotten the sacrifices those Marines made; hopefully, this book/movie will do for the Marines who fought the Japanese in the Pacific, what "Saving Private Ryan" did for the men who invaded Normandy.

For those who are interested, my great uncle Jim was on the first wave of the invasion of Normandy; he also survived...
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