Letters from Iwo Jima

“This is the hole that we will fight and die in. Hanako, am I digging my own grave?”

During pre-production on Flags of Our Fathers, Clint Eastwood was doing research and became curious about who it was on the Japanese side of the Battle of Iwo Jima who was leading their troops. This interest led him down a rabbit hole of curiosities that made him want to tell that story too. When he brought this up to producer Steven Spielberg, they decided that it was interesting enough to make a second film detailing that perspective. With that, Letters From Iwo Jima was born. Join us – Pete Wright and Andy Nelson – as we continue our Foreign Language Films Nominated for Best Picture series with Eastwood’s 2006 film Letters From Iwo Jima.

We talk about the interesting journey this film took in getting put together as a companion piece to the film Eastwood was originally making about the famous WWII battle. We discuss the reasons this film ended up in our series but was not eligible to be nominated for a Best Foreign Language Film Oscar. We look at the nature of Japanese society and the rituals depicted in this film, and chat about why this film connected with so many Japanese people on its release. We chat about Ken Watanabe, Kazunari Ninomiya, Tsuyoshi Ihara, and Ryô Kase and look at what they each bring to the table. We also talk about the casting and the nature of acting, and why this was Phyllis Huffman’s last film with Eastwood as his casting director. We look at the incredible albeit muted cinematography of Tom Stern paired with the great production design by the legendary Henry Bumstead in his last film. And we touch on the music and the composers behind it.

It’s another strong entry into our series and despite its sobering content, we have a fantastic conversation about it. So check it out then tune in. The Next Reel – when the movie ends, our conversation begins!

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