Bullets fly and bombs explode in Clint Eastwood's new film Flags of Our Fathers. The historical recreation of the historic siege of Iwo Jima is awe-inspiring in its intensity and grisly detail. But the movie isn't just about combat. It's about other kinds of conflict—wars of words, battles fought for the hearts and minds of a nation, and private conflicts with addiction, depression, and prejudice.

But one thing unites the three central characters of this story—they all took part in the famous flag raising on Mt. Surabachi on that small, rocky Japanese island, a moment captured by AP photographer Joe Rosenthal. And that photograph had a significant impact on American patriotism.

All told, the battle of Iwo Jima was a triumph for U.S. forces, but that victory came at a heavy price. More than 26,000 Marines were killed or wounded on that island, and 22,000 Japanese defenders died there as well. In Eastwood's complex adaptation of James Bradley's book, we see through the eyes of the Marines who fought there. And then we follow them home to learn about further challenges that awaited them.

My full review is at Christianity Today Movies.

David DiCerto (Catholic News Service) raves that the performances are "superb," and he praises Eastwood's direction, saying he has delivered a powerful work about heroism. "Eastwood does not subvert the traditional ideal of valor, but honors it by reminding us that the heroes of Iwo Jima were not supermen, but ordinary boys who rose to the occasion, sacrificing their lives to do what was needed, not for glory, but for the greater good and the guy next to them in the foxhole."

Christian Hamaker (Crosswalk) praises the film for its refusal to "offer easy notions of patriotism or jingoistic ...

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