Monday, March 05, 2007

If I had a house and a horse...

How can you possibly continue to live without a NASCAR lawn jockey?

Depressing Letters from Iwo Jima

Last night I finally saw Letters from Iwo Jima. Iwo Jima has always fascinated me because so much chaos, injury and death was concentrated on such a small piece of land. I have read that what was unique about Iwo Jima was not so much the high casualties but the violence with which people died. Since the island was so small and many large weapons were used when you got hit on Iwo Jima there was a pretty good chance there wouldn't be very much of you left. If any place on this planet is haunted, Iwo Jima would be it. I guess when you are dead the appearance of your corpse means very little to you but to survive such a hell hole must leave scars. That was Flags of our Fathers.

Letters reminded me of the German movie "Downfall" which followed Hitler through the last few days of World War II. The apparent madness of each suicidal venture is realized by everyone involved yet, for the most part, they carry out their
duties. We humans do have a tendency to want to die with our boots on. Whether it be the Alamo and Iwo Jima, "We ain't coming out. Come and get us."

What resonated most strongly for me in this movie was the portrayal of the Japanese soldiers, after a few days of fighting, as essentially being prey. A couple of times the Japanese soldiers sprint over open ground attempting to reach another strong point so they may continue fighting. Many are mowed down each time by American machine guns. It's harrowing. The soldiers are like a herd of deer trying to cross a busy highway or domesticated game birds fleeing rich hunters on a reserve. Knowing that the Japanese were the most dehumanized of our enemies in World War II and knowing the hatred the average Marine had for his Japanese opponent and then seeing these men that Eastwood just spent the last hour replacing propoganda with humanity fall like grass before a lawnmower is one of the most moving movie experiences I've had since that moment in Million Dollar Baby when Maggie's neck hits the stool.

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