Tuesday, November 6, 2007

War sucks

This weekend my hubby and I watched two movies. Flags of our Fathers and Letters from Iwo Jima -- two sides of the same true story of the battle for Iwo Jima in World War II. We started with Flags and were so intrigued by it that we were pausing the movie to Google questions we had. We were both overwhelmed with the statistics and the story so much so that the next night we got Letters. I could hardly wait until the kids were in bed so we could put it in. Sounds morbid, perhaps, especially since they were both rated R for violence (it is, after all, war). But there's something really cool about a movie made by a big-name producer that has ties to my personal family history. You see, my grandfather was in the Navy in World War II. He was either one of those men who didn't talk much about his experience after returning home, or I was too young to ask the right questions (not to mention that I didn't really appreciate history as a subject until I became and adult). But I learned a few years ago at my grandpa's funeral that he was on one of the ships that evacuated American soldiers off Iwo Jima after the battle. Needless to say, the true story depicted in these movies intrigued me, and seeing the ships at sea on the screen made me thinking of my grandpa and wonder about his experience.

Even though it was hard to watch the carnage -- twice -- the movies both did an excellent job of doing more than just retracing the battle lines and telling the story. They got inside the minds of the soldiers and made me think about things like heroism and patriotism and honor and what they truly mean vs. the trite terms they become when we misuse them. I couldn't help but shake my head over and over at the similarities of the fears and struggles and hopes of the men on both sides. When we finished watching the second one, I think the first thing out of my mouth besides a sigh was my not-so-terribly-intelligent comment that I thought pretty much summed up how I felt: "War sucks."

Boy, if that doesn't make you want to watch these movies I don't know what will! Okay, I'm being facetious, but seriously, if you're looking for something more than just a few hours of entertainment or something that might make you think (gasp!), then I'd cautiously venture to recommend these. Definitely watch Flags of our Fathers first (the American soldier's perspective) and then Letters from Iwo Jima (the Japanese soldier's perspective). I'd be interested to hear your thoughts, if you want to share them.

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