FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS, a Clint Eastwood film

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Clint Eastwood's next film, going into production soon with an eye on a second-half of '06 release, is Flags of Our Fathers. A World War II epic about the bloody and important Battle of Iwo Jima, Flags is based on the bestselling non-fiction book by James Bradley, to be co-produced by Steven Spielberg (they teamed similarly on The Bridges of Madison County), with the screenplay adapted by Paul Haggis (Crash, Million Dollar Baby). The book and the film focus on the six young men who eventually raised the flag on the rocky shore, the single most famous photograph from the War.

Three of the six flag-raisers have been cast thus far, and will be played by Ryan Phillippe, Adam Beach and Jesse Bradford. Phillippe is John Bradley, Beach is Ira Hayes, and Bradford is Rene Gagnon.

Phillippe is certainly the best-known of those three, appearing in such good movies as Crash, Gosford Park, White Squall and Igby Goes Down as well as more disposable fare like Cruel Intentions, Way of the Gun and I Know What You Did Last Summer. And he and Reese Witherspoon are still married, so he's definitely the most recognizeable. I thought he was fantastic in Crash, giving a layer of performance I hadn't seen from him yet (especially the most dramatic moment in his car, and the emotional aftermath).

Adam Beach was excellent in the highly-praised yet still underseen Sundance favorite Smoke Signals, but since then hasn't had much luck finding his way into decent projects. Working with Eastwood will change that in a hurry. Unfortunately the highest-profile role Adam has had until this was starring in John Woo's incredibly disappointing Windtalkers, a crapped-up "tale" about the amazing historical footnote of the U.S. using Navajos and their unique language as an unbreakable code the Japanese couldn't hope to crack in the Pacific theater. I have a feeling Flags will be a slightly better WWII movie.

Jesse Bradford is in one of my favorite coming-of-age movies, Steven Soderbergh's underseen Depression-era King of the Hill. You can't watch that movie and ever forget Bradford. As he aged into a teenager and now young man, he hasn't been in the best movies. He's got small roles in Romeo + Juliet and Bring it On, and he starred in the would-be thriller Swimfan. Later this summer he's part of the ensemble in Happy Endings, the new comedy from Don Roos (The Opposite of Sex), which co-stars Lisa Kudrow, Steve Coogan and Maggie Gyllenhaal, among others. But I'm really, really happy Jesse'll be working in Flags of Our Fathers. I hope that bright little fourteen-year-old kid from King of the Hill makes it big.



Here's an article from Eastwood's local Carmel, California paper (The Carmel Pine Cone) on some of the pre-production work and Clint's thoughts about the material...

Eastwood's Latest Project Is His Most Ambitious

At 75, Oscar-winning Director Tackles Epic Story Of Iwo Jima

By PAUL MILLER

Published: June 17, 2005


AFTER A legendary career as one of Hollywood’s top action movie heroes, followed by an equally impressive stint as an Academy Award-winning director, former Carmel Mayor Clint Eastwood is about to start filming his most ambitious — and most expensive — project.

Beginning in August, Eastwood will travel to New York, Chicago, Washington, D.C., Hawaii, the North Atlantic and the forbidding, sulfurous Pacific island of Iwo Jima to recreate the story of the six men who raised the flag on Mt. Suribachi in the middle of one of World War II’s costliest battles.

Three of those men were dead within days of the Feb. 23, 1945, event that was captured in history’s most reproduced photograph. Only one, John Bradley, lived a long, fruitful life. It is his son’s book, Flags of Our Fathers, that Eastwood will bring to the big screen.

“My father was a flag raiser, and I feel like I’m the custodian of an incredible story,” Bradley told The Pine Cone from his home in Rye, N.Y. “Having Clint Eastwood direct the movie — the flag raisers are in good hands.”

Bradley’s heartrending book was published in 2000 and quickly became a best seller. After reading it, Eastwood tried to acquire the rights, only to learn that Steven Spielberg already owned them. Four years later, the two cinematic legends agreed to produce the movie together, with Eastwood directing.

While impressive names top the credits, the cast won’t include any big stars.

“The men who raised the flag were all young — very young — and we’ll be using actors who are up and coming,” Eastwood said this week during a pre-production break.

Still, the budget for Flags of Our Fathers will probably reach $80 million — three times as much as Million Dollar Baby, which won four Oscars in February, including Best Picture and Best Director. And Flags will take at least three months to film, Eastwood said — far more than any other picture he’s directed.


A Sacred Place

The huge commitment of time and money reflects the difficulty of recreating a major battle of history’s greatest conflict.

“The Japanese defenders were dug in everywhere, and they had an armada of 880 ships coming at them,” Eastwood said after scouting locations on Iwo Jima in April. “The battle lasted 31 days, and almost 30,000 men lost their lives, including about 7,000 Americans.”

Thousands of Japanese dead are still on the island, he said, many of them in the underground fortresses they hewed out of solid rock to resist the Allied onslaught, which aimed to give American air forces a base for bombing the Japanese mainland just 600 miles away.

“We went down into quite a few tunnels, but you can only go so far, because nobody’s been in them in a long time,” he said.

Access to the cavernous underground headquarters of the Japanese commander, General Tadamichi Kuribayashi, requires crawling on hands and knees through a small opening — an experience Eastwood said he found “claustrophobic.” But he said his wife, Dina, who accompanied him on the scouting trip, didn’t mind the creepy crawl.

They found that throughout the island, which is still an active volcano, there is still a tremendous amount of fired ordnance lying around, along with rusting tanks, machine gun nests and medical equipment. “Everything has been left pretty much the way it was,” Eastwood said. “They don’t allow tourists, and nobody else has picked it up.”

Recreating the vast struggle that cost so many lives and left behind so much detritus poses a daunting task for a filmmaker. The Japanese government, which regained sovereignty over the tiny island in 1968, severely restricts access to Iwo Jima and what can be done there.

“They want us to come and shoot, but it’s sacred ground for them, and because of the memorial aspect, I can’t use a bunch of pyrotechnics to create the mayhem the way it was,” Eastwood said. “Also, I can’t take a ton of equipment and men over there and have [the Japanese] all of a sudden say, ‘You can’t do that.’”

So while wide shots of Iwo Jima, to be overlaid with digitally created invasion ships and airplanes, will be filmed on the island itself — along with a possible recreation of the famous flag raising — the combat footage will be shot on the desolate, black sand beaches of the far North Atlantic.

“We looked at Hawaii, and I liked it, but the beaches are too narrow,” said Eastwood. “Iceland, for example, has very big black sand beaches.” He pointed out that Spielberg used the coast of Northern Ireland as a substitute for Normandy in his 1998 film, “Saving Private Ryan.”


A "Brilliant" Script

The screenplay for Flags of Our Fathers interweaves brutal combat with the personal stories of the men who raised the stars and stripes on Mt. Suribachi — their suddenly lost youth, and the price paid for their valor by the families they left behind.

“When I first read the script, I cried,” said Bradley. “And then I read it again, and I cried again.” He also said he was “bowled over” by the “brilliant” techniques screenwriter Paul Haggis used to transform his book for the visual medium of the cinema.

"What he did convinced me I could never be a screenwriter,” said Bradley, who is also author of the widely acclaimed book, Flyboys.

Another crucial element in the story of the Iwo Jima flag raisers is the war-bond whirlwind the surviving soldiers were suddenly thrust into after Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal’s image of them was printed on the front page of every major newspaper in America.

“Their first press conference was in the Oval Office, where Harry Truman told them, ‘Boys, you raised the flag. Now you’ve got to raise some money,’” Bradley recounted.

One of the movie’s scenes will be a massive parade through Times Square. Another will be a huge “Buy Bonds” rally at Chicago’s Soldier Field. Other scenes will recreate Hawaii’s Camp Tarawa (where U.S. troops trained for the Iwo Jima invasion), the dedication of the Iwo Jima Memorial in Arlington, Va., and the home towns of the six flag raisers — including Appleton, Wisconsin, Manchester, New Hampshire, and Arizona’s Pima Indian Reservation.

“Everything has to look as real as possible,” Eastwood said.

“The Warner Bros. art department even asked me, ‘What did the front porch look like where [flag raiser] Harlon Block’s family got the news he had been killed?’” Bradley recalled.

In addition to working toward the release of Flags of Our Fathers in the summer of 2006, Eastwood will shoot a companion piece about the invasion from the Japanese point of view. “It will be like a documentary, telling the story of the men who defended the island, their tenacity, and what it was like to have this armada coming at them.”

Both films will have the same purpose, he said: To be true to the history of an heroic — and desperately tragic — era.

“I just want the people who end up seeing these pictures to feel how the story happened, how these skinny kids were affected, and how they were a lot tougher than we are today.”
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A system of cells interlinked
Excellent News. Another classic in the making for Mr. Eastwood, perhaps?
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Sir Sean Connery's love-child
Clint rocks. He just seems to get better with age.
Glad that his directing has won as many plaudits as his acting, a very talented man who appears to have kept his feet on the ground.
Looking forward to this, can't think of a bad movie involving Clint.

Right turn Clyde.....
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Thanks Pikey, very interesting.
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i think it's going to be bland just like all his movies,when i want to see a really great and exceptional movie i don't expect it from clint eastwood....bridges of madison county, mistic river, milion dollar baby..all average movies..the best thing he's done was the unforgiven....



Originally Posted by adidasss
i think it's going to be bland just like all his movies,when i want to see a really great and exceptional movie i don't expect it from clint eastwood....bridges of madison county, mistic river, milion dollar baby..all average movies..the best thing he's done was the unforgiven....
I mean this without any insult to you whatsoever: What would be an "above-average" movie to you? Granted your list of movies here arent the best ever, but only average? Just asking.
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well, i don't know, i've mentioned this a couple of milion times. here's a few: all about my mother, talk to her ( pedro almodovar ), LOTR, matrix ( part one ), hero, croutching tiger hiden dragon, amelie, open your eyes ( abre los ojos - alejandro amenabar ), the sea within ( mar adentro - alejandro amenabar ), the return, oldboy, amorres perros, y tu mama tambien, city of god, pulp fiction, kill bill......etc......all extraordinary films.....



I know it comes down to taste and I agree with you on most of your films, what I am saying is that the Eastwood films you mentioned as "bland" are at the very least on par with some of those films, IMO anyway. Thanks for answering. BTW I have really been out of pocket so to speak on the site over the last few months so sorry if I did not notice some of your previous posts.



it does come down to personal taste, i mean, i'm really not the kind of person that only likes flashy spectacles, i like dramas too, when they're good, but honestly, mistic river was so hyped as being this amazing film, and when is saw it it seemed to me like the plot was so predictable, bridges of madison county was allright, but quite frankly it was a bit dull, i saw it as something someone who's 75 would enjoy watching, not special at all and i like my movies to be special in some way.....if his name wasn't clint eastwood his movies could have done just fine as tv movies....



Originally Posted by adidasss
if his name wasn't clint eastwood his movies could have done just fine as tv movies....
You really haven't seen very many of his movies. In addition to the brilliant Unforgiven that you have seen, you need to add A Perfect World, High Plains Drifter, The Outlaw Josey Wales, Play Misty for Me, The Gauntlet, Tightrope, Bird, Honkytonk Man and White Hunter Black Heart among others. The man has directed twenty-six feature films to date and won two Oscars as Best Director. He kinda sorta knows what he's doing. That you didn't like Mystic River or The Bridges of Madison County hardly dismisses the man's total body of work, does it?

Or just keep being ignorant. Whichever is easier, I reckon.




no need to resort to name calling mkay?
i've seen million dollar baby,mystic river, space cowboys,true crime,midnight in the garden of good and evil,bridges of madison county,a perfect world,unforgiven, bird, heartbrake ridge...and perhapse some others ....i think i've seen enough to make my judgement about his talent as a director....
and most of the movies you've mentioned are in his earlier career ( 70's and 80's ) if anything, that tells me he's lost his inspiration ( or talent )....maybe he should just stick to the westerns....



I had been meaning to update this thread for a while, since Eastwood announced that he is now making two movies on the subject of the infamous Battle of Iwo Jima. Here is a nice article from last week's TIME magazine by Richard Schickel...

Clint's Double Take
Eastwood directs two films on the battle of Iwo Jima: one from the U.S. side, the other from the Japanese


Sometime this month in Chicago, Clint Eastwood will complete principal photography on his latest movie, Flags of Our Fathers. It's the 26th feature film he has directed since he made Play Misty for Me in 1971. And just as he has done before (The Bridges of Madison County, Mystic River), he is basing it on a best-selling book. But this movie is different from all the others that he or anyone else has directed, for Flags is only half the story he wants to tell.

The book, by James Bradley and Ron Powers, recounts the ultimately tragic tale of six young U.S. Marines who happened to raise a huge American flag atop Mount Suribachi in the midst of the great battle for Iwo Jima during World War II, of how an Associated Press photographer squeezed off what he thought was a routine shot of them doing so that became an iconic image, of what happened to some of those kids (only three survived the next few days of battle) when they were hustled home to be heedlessly exploited by the U.S. government to raise civilian morale and, incidentally, sell billions of dollars' worth of war bonds. That story, rich in darkly ambiguous nuance, would have been more than enough to preoccupy Eastwood's attention for a couple of years.

But when Eastwood tried to buy the rights, he discovered that Steven Spielberg already had them, and so he moved on instead to Million Dollar Baby. Then, backstage at the 2004 Academy Awards (at which his Mystic River was a multiple nominee), Eastwood encountered Spielberg, and before the evening was out, they agreed to a Flags co-production, with Eastwood directing. Shortly thereafter, the project began to elicit an uncommon, almost obsessive, interest from its director. He has not often attempted fact-based movies, and he had never undertaken one that contained such huge combat scenes. He began to read more widely and deeply on the subject. And he began talking to both American and Japanese veterans of Iwo Jima, which remains the bloodiest engagement in Marine Corps history and the one for which the most Congressional Medals of Honor were awarded (27). As for the Japanese, only about 200 out of 22,000 defending soldiers survived. At some point in his research, Eastwood realized that he had to find a way to tell both sides of the story--"not in the Tora! Tora! Tora! way, where you cut back and forth between the two sides," he says, "but as separate films."

So, beginning next February, Eastwood will start shooting the companion movie, tentatively called Lamps Before the Wind, scheduled for simultaneous release with Flags next fall. Typically, Eastwood (who is an old friend of this writer's) is not able to articulate fully his rationale for this ambitious enterprise: "I don't know--sometimes you get a feeling about something. You have a premonition that you can get something decent out of it," he says. "You just have to trust your gut." He asked Paul Haggis, who wrote Flags, if he would like to write the Japanese version as well. The writer of Million Dollar Baby and director of Crash, Haggis was overbooked but thought an aspiring young Japanese-American screenwriter, Iris Yamashita, who had helped him research Flags, might be able to do it. She met with Eastwood, and once again his gut spoke; he gave her the job and liked her first draft so much that he bought it. It was she who insisted on giving him a few rewrites she thought her script still needed.

Taken together, the two screenplays show that the battle of Iwo Jima--and by implication, the whole war in the Pacific--was not just a clash of arms but a clash of cultures. The Japanese officer class, imbued with the quasi-religious fervor of their Bushido code, believed that surrender was dishonor, that they were all obliged to die in defense of their small island. That, of course, was not true of the attacking Americans. As Eastwood puts it, "They knew they were going into harm's way, but you can't tell an American he's absolutely fated to die. He will work hard to get the job done, but he'll also work hard to stay alive." And to protect his comrades-in-arms. As Haggis' script puts it, the Americans "may have fought for their country, but they died for their friends, for the man in front, for the man beside 'em."



Yamashita's script is much more relentlessly cruel. In essence, the Japanese officers compelled the bravery (and suicide) of their troops at gunpoint. Only the Japanese commander, Lieut. General Tadamichi Kuribayashi (a mysterious historical figure who fascinates Eastwood), and a fictional conscript, Saigo, whose fate Yamashita intertwines with his commanding officer's, demonstrate anything like humanity as a Westerner might understand it. The lieutenant general, educated in part in the U.S., is respectful of its national spirit (and industrial might) and believes that a live soldier, capable of carrying on the fight, is infinitely more valuable than a dead one enjoying an honorable afterlife. Thanks to his preservationist tactics, a battle that was supposed to last five days consumed almost 40, though honor demanded his suicide in the end. Saigo, who, as Eastwood says, "wants what most human beings want" (a peaceful life with friends and family), meets an unexpected fate.

The Japanese film derives much of its strength from its claustrophobic confinement to a horrendous time and place. Haggis' work gains its power from its confident range. The screenplay starts with the Americans on the beaches and the protagonists raising the flag. It follows them on their vulgar war-bond tour (they were obliged to re-enact the flag raising on a papier-mâché Suribachi at Soldier Field in Chicago) and then traces their postwar descent into dream-tossed anonymity. You could argue that the Japanese were the lucky ones: their government and religion foreordained their fate, and they had no choice but to endure it. Chance played more capriciously with the Americans, who liked to think they were in charge of their destinies. Yet Flag's protagonists end up knowing that they were blessed by nothing more than a photo op--and knowing that the true, unacknowledged heroes were the men left behind to fight and die on Iwo Jima's black sands. The film follows three survivors: Ira Hayes (played by Adam Beach), Rene Gagnon (Jesse Bradford) and John Bradley (Ryan Phillippe), the co-author's father. To put it mildly, their lives do not continue on a heroic trajectory. At one point Bradley, forever assailed by nightmares that he never discusses, wishes that "there hadn't been a flag on the end of that pole."

The inscrutability of fate has always been a major Eastwoodian subtext. But now, as he approaches his 76th birthday, he has begun to take it personally. "There are so many people who are as good or better than me who aren't working," he says of his career, "while I still am. I can't explain that, but luck has to play a part." Here's hoping his luck holds.

I love that at this age and stage in his career Clint Eastwood is still evolving as an artist and becoming even more ambitious. Can't hardly wait to see this double project at the end of 2006.



I am having a nervous breakdance
Originally Posted by Holden Pike
I love that at this age and stage in his career Clint Eastwood is still evolving as an artist and becoming even more ambitious. Can't hardly wait to see this double project at the end of 2006.
Yeah, Eastwood is definately not slowing down, and shouldn't either. I too am looking forward to this big project, although I couldn't help to feel a bit of skepticism about the whole "from both sides" thing.
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Originally Posted by Piddzilla
I too am looking forward to this big project, although I couldn't help to feel a bit of skepticism about the whole "from both sides" thing.
Why is that?



There are those who call me...Tim.
Sounds interesting. In fact it sounds brilliant, this is exactly the sort of thing I've wanted to see from WW2 drama's but never got to. I wish someone would do the same for the war in Germany (or if someone already has, could someone point me in the right direction?).



I am having a nervous breakdance
Originally Posted by Holden Pike
Why is that?
Well, not that I think it will necessarily be bad movies, I'm just curious about what the real motivation is for him to show both sides of the story. Because reading that interview it seems that it will not be two sides of the story - more like one side telling two stories. Which is ok of course, as long as you're honest about it.



Sounds really interesting... Adam is a good choice to play Ira....
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