THE BATTLE OF IWO JIMA
FROM BOTH SIDES
HORROR AND INHUMANITY EQUALLY SHARED
HEROISM OF THE DEAD
EXPLOITATION OF THE SURVIVORS
The two films together are a masterpiece for peace in the world and for major powers to set the example to all other nations.
It is high time Trump’s warmongering were brought to a halt, an end, a stop.
Only the United Nations have the legitimacy to declared a war against anyone, any nation, any state that want to impose their views to the world with violence and war.
In that case Trump himself has no legitimacy at all. He is not the loudspeaker of the world even if he wants to be the bully of it.
Dr. Jacques COULARDEAU
CLINT EASTWOOD — STEVEN SPIELBERG — FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS — 2006
This film concerns the last real fierce emblematic battle (February 19, 1945 — March 26, 1945) between the USA and Japan, the battle for the island of Iwo Jima. The war is coming to an end and after this battle, it will drag on with Japan retreating little by little and this will only be stopped once and for all with the atom bombs of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. At the end of this battle, the federal government of the USA is unable to finance the end of the war and they use this battle, this victory as the tool they need to launch a final battle in the USA to raise the money necessary to finish the job.
But when this battle is finished, won the main actor of this war, Franklin D. Roosevelt dies within weeks on April 12, 1945, and Truman takes over. He is the one who decided to drop the atom bombs in Japan, though of course, Roosevelt is the one who had launched the research and financed the production of these bombs, little boy as the first one was called. Dramatic event that required the levying of millions if not billions of dollars to pay for the next six months of the war.
This first film — that has to be twinned with Letters from Iwo Jima — is the battle seen from the American point of view and what’s more from the recollections the son of one of the GIs who raised the flag there managed to collect from his father before his death, and the father expressed in his last weeks or months of life the great distance he had taken with this war and this battle. The film shows with all the horror and bloody cruelty you can imagine this battle and how the GIs reacted and survived because that’s the master word here: The Gis did all they could to survive and avoid the bullets. Their choice was simple: go through the showering bullets, remain alive, and kill as many people on the other side. Prisoners were not even a question.
Then the film shows how three surviving soldiers who raised the flag are enrolled in a campaign across the USA to raise money, including by the reenactment of the raising of the flag. But it is all built on a fake picture. The first raising of the flag was not taken by the photographer following the armed forces, a GI himself, because he was not thre at the time. He only took the “second raising” but in the meantime, one of the four Gis who did it was dead or gone and he was replaced by a second fourth one who will die soon after. The picture that was sent around in the press and the media all over the world cheated then on the identity of this fourth soldier. And both fourth soldiers dying soon after and not being there anymore to testify, two mothers, two families were suffering from the ambiguity.
The truth came from one of the three survivors, the Indian GI, who later on, after the war, leaked the truth to the press. The fact that remains is that the federal state and the American political apparatus used this picture and this event for years with even the erecting of a monument representing this particular event. What is important in such situation? The real truth or the dynamism that the official but false truth creates? The reality is that very often the hypocritical truth is the one that works in the media, most of the time because the media do not know it is fake. And today some speak of fake news!
The three survivors will have very different careers after the war. The Indian will die officially from exposure sometime after the inauguration of the official commemorative monument, without an autopsy, meaning that an Indian is an Indian and his being a national hero does not count: he is still refused a drink in a bar that does not serve Indians, even when the whole city around the bar is celebrating on this very evening the three survivors and the raising of the flag in a monstrous event in some stadium. The next GI will never get a decent job, nor decent training or education, and he will be a janitor all his life. The last one will have the opportunity to buy a funeral parlor and will prosper as a mortician and he is the one whose son is collecting the last memories.
The general idea is that if heroes there are they are all dead: the heroes are those who died in the battle. The survivors were just die-hard lucky survivors who managed to run through a torrentuous shower of projectiles of all sorts and did not get wet at all. Dry till the end, or maybe one or two drops, one or two wounds, but nothing serious enough to put you six feet under. In 2006 the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were getting clogged up in a quagmire and Clint Eastwood and Steven Spielberg had the courage to tell the wide audience that a war is never anything clean, heroic and that it is essentially a cruel game played by people far away from the front who will use the survivors to reach their objectives provided these survivors do NOT, absolutely NOT, question the basic principles of the society whose elite the war-players at home are, namely segregation and class distinctions, not to mention racism and racial distinctions.
The USA was starting to come back from the brink of the precipice by then in 2006 and a new president was going to be elected. Unluckily after that new president, another came who wants today again to bring us to the brink of that very same precipice. History does not repeat itself but as Lenin used to say: “One step forward, two steps back.” But Clint Eastwood and Steven Spielberg went one step further after this first step, hence two steps forward, and they produced the second film about this battle, this time from the Japanese point of view.
By Dr Jacques COULARDEAU on June 30, 2009
To take the battle of Iwo Jima and show how that war, that turning point, maybe not, that dramatic apocalypse, for sure, of the Second World War, American side, is a pure illustration of what an apocalypse is: a revelation. Clint Eastwood with his Steven Spielberg accomplice demonstrate that revelation and its secret content. The kids who are sent to a war, any war, all wars, are no heroes whatsoever and in any way but they are the flesh and dough of the cannons of the enemy, or rather the other side.
And they even have to lie and play heroes to get the dough the government needs to continue and finish that war. Those heroes are associated to flags and the raising of flags on a pile of ruins to show and inspire victory, be it in Iwo Jima, Berlin or Hiroshima. Heroes are fabricated for the sole reason that they are needed to go on with the lucrative and politically essential war, on any side of the conflict.
For one flag, and in this conflict hardly more than half a dozen flags for fifty five million dead. That makes each star on the flags, when these flags have stars, quite expensive. There is no clean war, there is no un-staged war, there is no just war. There is only war, war horror and staging the horror to make it palatable to those who do not live it, have not lived it, do not remember it.
And some invent a duty to remember, an obligation to keep in mind, even when we are two or three or more generations after the conflict and we do not have direct witnesses to speak of it any more, and their word is only their word modified by time, propaganda, celebrations and simply the desire to forget.
There is no obligation to remember, even if there is an obligation to make, not only permit them to, historians go on with their work and try to reconstruct what has disappeared forever anyway. In fact a poet could be more effective in that direction than a historian who is paid for his work and tends to follow the trend of whoever pays him, be they publishers or politicians, or committed associations on one side or the other of the many rivers that run through historical time. Clint Eastwood and Steven Spielberg do a marvelous work along that line.
Dr Jacques COULARDEAU, University Paris 1 Pantheon Sorbonne, University Versailles Saint Quentin en Yvelines, CEGID
CLINT EASTWOOD — STEVEN SPIELBERG — LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA — 2006
This second film on the battle of Iwo Jima is from the point of view of the Japanese and based on a collection of letters the Japanese soldiers received or wrote during the battle, letters that were never dispatched or were never distributed, and were incidentally saved by probably the sole survivor of the battle, a survivor who only survived due to a set of circumstances that saved his life three times during the whole battle. This Japanese soldier put the letters in a leather bag and buried them in one of the caves used by the commander of the Japanese troops. The bag of letters was found when some Japanese workers started working recently on the island to turn it into some kind of memorial.
The film shows with a lot of crude truthfulness the life of these soldiers — and officers — who knew from the very start that they were all going to die on this island for no reason whatsoever but for the Emperor and the Empire, even though this Emperor and this Empire were doomed to get to their dead end of a final destination. The life of the soldiers is brutal and the officers are divided. A new commander arrives for the battle and some flashbacks show how attached to the USA he was and yet he will be wounded and will die, by his own hand with a Colt that had been presented to him by some American important people in some kind of celebration in the USA before the war. An allusion to the 1932 Los Angeles Olympic Games is quite pregnant in this context.
This commander could be humane in this context, both for his troops and for the one and only prisoner he made. Apart from this one he provided with some medical and communicational comfort while he was dying, no other prisoner was made and two Japanese prisoners were made on the American side and the two GIs who were supposed to look after them took the decision to kill them, one GI by shooting the two bullets and the other GI as an accessory to this crime.
This battle was a battle without any prisoners, except the simple soldier who had been saved from a vicious caning at the beginning, then from a sectarian beheading from some fundamentalist patriotic officer, and finally from the final assault by the commanding officer of the battle. This soldier witnessed the final suicide of this commanding officer who was severely wounded and committed suicide with the Colt he was presented as a gift long before the war, hence dying from an American bullet. The surviving Japanese soldier buried his commanding officer so that he would not be taken away from this Japanese land, just before being made prisoner. Nothing is said about his future.
The film also shows, particularly with the letters the soldiers are writing to their families that are quoted all along the drastic horror they have to live through. They are also divided between very few wanting to surrender, many being tired and bored with the war but ready to go on to the final end, and a certain proportion, particularly among officers, ready to consider dying in such a butchery is an honor, a heroic honor. Clint Eastwood and Steven Spielberg do not go beyond and hardly show real Japanese society, except in some flashbacks about before the war, about before being drafted into the war, or even a few about the real survival conditions of the wives and children left behind.
War is a drastic event and there is no one side in such an event that is clean. Since 1945 and this second world war, all wars were lost by the western powers who waged them, be it Great Britain, the USA, France, and even the USSR as an eastern power. Wars are numerous but always limited in scope and even terrorism is limited and would be a lot more limited if the west, globally or partially, had not provoked the Muslim world with the war in Afghanistan and then the war in Iraq and then the war in Syria, in other words a never-ending war in the Middle East started in 2001 and still going on with the USA trying to play their own and singlehanded game as if they were God Almighty. And of course they are unable to concede a defeat and after Obama had tried to step back and out of the muddy quicksands, the USA is back on the war track and the tomahawks they brandish are missiles.
The two films, Flags of Our Fathers and Letters from Iwo Jima, are a real manifesto to our most humane mental reality to make us understand there is no glory in war, no heroism in war, no future in war, and yet some have difficulties, and at times many difficulties to understand there must be an end in everything. It is amazing how people who have never had a war in their own street and in their backyards are unable to see the horror of such events and are ready to pay for such brutal and cruel selfish violence that achieve so little positive results, including pay for substitutes when they are drafted into such a war.
Dr. Jacques COULARDEAU