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 dramatising the ultimate futility of war. Eastwood's follow-up film, Letters from Iwo Jima, examines the Iwo Jima conflict from the Japanese perspective. 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 dramatise 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 humanise "the enemy," revealing the internal and external conflicts of soldiers and officers alike, forced by circumstance to sacrifice themselves or defend their honour 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 colour) 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
Ingmar Bergman's classic drama celebrates its 50th anniversary with this cinematic re-issue.
It's tempting to call the harrowing Stalingrad a World War II version of All Quiet on the Western Front, since both films take the perspective of ordinary German soldiers at ground level. Stalingrad surveys the misery of the battle of Stalingrad, the winter siege that cost the lives of almost one and a half million people--Russian defenders and German invaders alike. Not unlike Spielberg's approach to Saving Private Ryan, German director Joseph Vilsmaier rarely steps outside the action to comment on the higher purpose of the war, assuming the audience is aware of the evil of the Nazi regime. Instead, we simply follow a group of soldiers as they endure a series of gut-wrenching episodes, events that have the tang of authenticity and horror. Vilsmaier has a taste for symbolism and surreal touches, which only add to the unsettling sense of insanity this movie conjures up so well. --Robert Horton
"Days Of Glory" chronicles the story of the forgotten Algerians who fought alongside the French in WW2.
49th Parallel is a powerful and important piece of World War 2 propaganda which controversially was filmed from the point of view of a group of German soldiers. Asked to make a flag waver by the Ministry of Information the brilliantly gifted film-making team of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger elected to set the action in Canada. The film features a stellar cast who all waived their fees in the interests of the war. A Nazi U-boat is sunk by the Canadian Air Force and all the crew are lost except six men who had been sent ashore before the attack. They stumble across an Eskimo village where Scott Peter and his Eskimo servant Martin live. Also present is a French trapper Johnnie (played by Laurence Olivier) who panics when held at gunpoint and is shot by one of the Nazis. After this the Allies send an S.O.S. plane and it is the intention of the Nazis to hijack it and fly to neutral America. When the plane arrives there is a scuffle but they manage to take off. Will they be caught before they kill again?
Anne, a budding young actress, stumbles across secret recordings of a sinister Nazi appeasement plot that will stop at nothing to achieve its aims.
This amazing box set features all seven series of the classic ITV military drama Soldier Soldier spread over 23 discs. For individual episode listings please see the individual series.
Although made in 1956, A Town Like Alice has remained enduringly effective and affecting. Based on Nevil Shute's novel the story revolves around a romance set against the unlikely backdrop of a forced march through the jungles of Malaysia by British prisoners--mostly women and children--captured by the invading forces of Japan. The title is a reference to the homesick yearnings of Australian soldier Joe Harman, played by Peter Finch. He forms a bond with one of the female prisoners, Jean Paget (Virginia McKenna), and their travails are depicted with a remarkable subtlety and commendable lack of corniness. It's a minor classic. On the DVD: The black-and-white picture is presented in 4:3 format, with English subtitles if required. Extra features include a 25-minute "making of" documentary, a collection of behind-the-scenes photographs, potted biographies of the cast and crew and the original trailer. --Andrew Mueller
Russia attacked Finland in late November 1939. This film tells the story of a Finnish platoon of reservists from the municipality of Kauhava in the province of Pohjanmaa/Osttrobottnia who leave their homes and go to war. The film focuses on the farmer brothers Martti and Paavo Hakala.
Gay Rights Activist. Friend. Lover. Unifier. Politician. Fighter. Icon. Inspiration. Hero. His life changed history, and his courage changed lives.
Noel Coward's timeless movie of a couple who meet in a railway station and must make a decision that will change their lives forever.
In 1942 Malta is of critical importance to the Allied forces for it keeps the vital shipping supply lines open. As Peter Ross (Guinness) lands on the island and is attached to the local regiment he discovers aerial photographs that indicate Italian units are preparing to invade. Ross is selected to trace and destroy the enemy convoy before it is too late...
Welcome to the Cotton Club where crime lords rub shoulders with the rich and famous. Cornet player Dixie Dwyer gets a job in Harlem's famous Cotton Club while his brother gets a job as Dutch Schultz's bodyguard. Dwyer falls for Schultz's mistress Vera Cicero and finds himself caught in the middle of mobster rivalry in this stylish gangster film.
Laurence Olivier was Oscar-nominated for his mesmerising performance as King Henry V which was made to boost the morale of British troops during World War Two.
Latino heartthrob Gael Garcia Bernal stars as the young Che Guevara in this road movie with a difference.
Winning a raft of awards, not least of which four Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director, Oliver Stone's Platoon was a box-office smash heralding Hollywood's second wave of Vietnam war films. Where predecessors The Deer Hunter (1978) and Apocalypse Now (1979) were elaborate epics, Platoon simply showed the daily reality of the war from the point of view of ordinary soldiers. Stone's own service in Vietnam gives his work a unique authenticity. Charlie Sheen gives his best performance to date, enduring a series of increasingly large-scale and bloody battles which retrospectively make one wonder why Saving Private Ryan was hailed as so new. Against this gruelling verity the film falters over the symbolic conflict between good and evil sergeants played by Willem Dafoe and Tom Berenger. Even though this was also based in real life, it strikes a too conventionally Hollywood-like note in a film which otherwise maintains much of the raw power of Stone's other film from 1986, Salvador. Johnny Depp fans should look out for an early appearance by the star. Stone would return to Vietnam with the more sophisticated Born on the Fourth of July (1989) and Heaven and Earth (1993). On the DVD: The 50-minute documentary "Tour of the Inferno" goes beyond the usual "making-of" to present a personal account both of the film and of Stone's own time in Vietnam. Likewise the two audio commentaries--one by Stone, the other by Captain Dale Dye, fellow veteran and military technical advisor--range between the making of the film and the degree to which the actors came to inhabit their parts, to their own wartime experiences. Both commentaries bring a fresh level of appreciation and understanding to the film. Also included is the original trailer and three TV commercials, together with well-presented stills galleries of behind-the-scenes photos and poster art. Following a credit sequence marred by dirt on the print, the anamorphically enhanced 1.77:1 image is sharp and clear. The many night scenes are very dark but remain easily comprehensible. The three-channel Dolby Digital sound is suitably raw and powerful, though an early sequence featuring rain in the jungle suffers from very distracting repeated drop-outs in the left channel. --Gary S Dalkin
In World War II North Africa an actor is set the task of posing as Field Marshal Montgomery in an effort to confuse the Nazis. Based on a true story.
Featuring a blistering lead performance from Tom Hardy, "Bronson" charts the life and times of notorious prisoner Charles Bronson.
These pellets contain heroin. Each weighs 10 grams. Each is 4.2 cm long and 1.4 cm wide. And they're on their way to New York in the stomach of a 17-year-old girl.
A movie's lasting value can often be measured by its influence in the years and decades following its original release, and on that basis Run Silent, Run Deep is certainly a classic of sorts. It remains one of the seminal World War II submarine pictures, and its intelligent script and tautly executed action are clearly echoed in such later submarine dramas as Das Boot and especially Crimson Tide, which borrows liberally from this 1958 film. In one of his best and final roles (he appeared in only four films after this), Clark Gable plays a submarine captain without a command, having been saddled with a desk job after his previous ship was destroyed due to his overzealous pursuit of the enemy in dangerous Japanese waters. He finally gets another boat--this time with a vigilant first officer (Burt Lancaster), who stands poised to assume command if Gable puts his crew in unnecessary danger. The tension and mutual respect between these two principled men is superbly written and directed (Robert Wise was just two years away from his triumph with West Side Story), and the crucial inclusion of a strong supporting cast (including Jack Warden and Don Rickles) enhances the movie's compelling authenticity. Based on a novel by former submarine commander Edward L. Beach, Run Silent, Run Deep is rousing entertainment with the added benefit of paying honourable tribute to the men who navigated through the most frightening and claustrophobic channels of the Pacific cinema. --Jeff Shannon
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