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Clint Eastwood
Ryan Phillippe, Jesse Bradford, Adam Beach
Writing Credits:
William Broyles Jr., Paul Haggis

The life stories of the six men who raised the flag at the Battle of Iwo Jima, a turning point in World War II.

Box Office:
$55 million.
Opening Weekend
$10,245,190 on 1876 screens.
Domestic Gross

Rated R.

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
English Dolby 5.1
French Dolby 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 132 min.
Price: $14.99
Release Date: 5/22/2007

• Introduction by Director Clint Eastwood
• “Six Brave Men” Featurette
• “The Making of an Epic” Featurette
• “Raising the Flag” Featurette
• “Looking into the Past” Featurette
• “Words on the Page” Featurette
• “Visual Effects” Featurette
• Trailer


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
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-Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


Flags Of Our Fathers [Blu-Ray] (2006)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (September 13, 2022)

While I don’t know if I’d call the 1945 image of Marines as they raise the US flag on Iwo Jima the most iconic photo of all-time, it sure must qualify high on that list. Clint Eastwood uses 2006’s Flags Of Our Fathers to show us the story behind the famous picture.

Flags mostly focuses on three soldiers involved in the event. We meet Navy corpsman Doc Bradley (Ryan Phillippe) and Marines Ira Hayes (Adam Beach) and Rene Gagnon (Jesse Bradford). The movie takes a non-linear approach to events, as it looks at the battle between the Allies and the Japanese on Iwo Jima as well as the iconic flag-raising itself.

In addition, much of Flags concentrates on the aftereffects of the photo. Of all those involved with the photo, only Bradley, Hayes and Gagnon survive.

The US government sees propaganda value in these men and uses them to sell war bonds. They tour the US and deal with psychological and practical issues created by their experiences.

I must admit I find Eastwood to be overrated as a filmmaker, though don’t interpret that to mean I think he’s bad or untalented, as neither is true. However, I don’t see that most of his work deserves the praise it receives.

Of his two Best Picture winners, 1992’s Unforgiven stands as the superior project, but it remains flawed. Though it features many strengths, it comes with too many problems to stand as a great flick.

However, Unforgiven significantly betters 2004’s deeply problematic Million Dollar Baby. Trite, predictable, simple and heavy-handed, that movie didn’t remotely deserve its success.

One could argue Eastwood won for Baby as a “make good” for 2003’s Mystic River. Many felt that flick should’ve won over actual victor The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. I wouldn’t argue that, as I loved King and thought River was just pretty good, but it seems like a plausible explanation for the otherwise mystifying awarded issued to Baby.

I suppose it may come as some form of poetic justice that Flags stands as one of Eastwood’s best films but it didn’t win the Best Picture prize. It wasn’t nominated, as instead, Letters from Iwo Jima - the Japanese-centered flipside of Flags - got the Best Picture nod.

I don’t know if I think the Academy made a mistake, but I do know that I like Flags. Moving, rich and satisfying, Flags stands as top-notch Eastwood.

I’ll admit that part of the reason I like Flags comes from the subject matter. I’ve always been interested in World War II history, so that sort of material almost always connects with me.

However, my enjoyment of WWII-based flicks is far from inevitable. I’ve seen plenty of bad movies that follow that era - Windtalkers, anyone? – and can probably find more poor WWII movies than good ones.

In truth, Flags is less about the war and more about its aftermath. In that vein, it somewhat resembles 1946’s The Best Years of Our Lives.

Flags manages to dig into its subjects well. Eastwood’s flick balances its non-linear narrative in a surprisingly coherent manner.

The film jumps from warfare to flag raising to subsequent events with ease and confidence. Never does the story confuse or befuddle as it skips from one area to another.

Though Flags gives us a good picture of the thread leads, Hayes creates the most memorable participant. He’s easily the most complex personality of the bunch.

An American Indian, Hayes confronts racism both subtle and overt, and he also deals with the worst “survivor’s guilt” of the trio. This leads to alcoholism, self-loathing and problems that don’t face the other two.

Unfortunately, Flags doesn’t develop Gagnon and Bradley as well. Even though the movie is based on a book co-authored by the real Bradley’s son, “Doc” comes across as a thin sketch of a personality.

We never get much of a feel for the man above and beyond his devotion to his fellow soldiers. Perhaps the involvement of Bradley’s son is part of the problem.

This may have sucked some of the depth out of “Doc” since his son may have been too reverential. Whatever the case, the movie suffers a little from the absence of depth given to “Doc”.

The film’s development of Gagnon falls somewhere between those two extremes. Rene comes across as easily the slickest and most opportunistic of the trio.

He views the bond-selling tour as a chance to make a fine life for himself, while Bradley and especially Hayes are considerably less comfortable with the way they’re forced to turn the pain of war into propaganda. Gagnon doesn’t seem to care and often seems like something of a jerk. The movie manages to develop him better as it progresses, though I don’t think it ever quite makes him a three-dimensional personality.

Despite some of these concerns, I think Flags works well, and the film’s unusual focus has a lot to do with this. Most war movies don’t spend much time off the field of battle, but here we clearly see the unique circumstances that involved our leads and how these situations affected them. Much of the film does take place on Iwo Jima, but the concentration on the subsequent bond drive adds real depth to the story.

Flags easily could have been a simple depiction of the story behind the famous flag raising, but the psychological view of the post-battle events makes it something more. Eastwood balances the elements well and never allows one to dominate. He melds the material into a slightly inconsistent but mostly rich and involving tale.

The Disc Grades: Picture B/ Audio B+/ Bonus B

Flags of Our Fathers appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. A fairly early Blu-ray, it largely held up well but it occasionally showed its age.

Sharpness became a periodic minor issue. While most of the movie offered good delineation, it lacked the crispness I expect from Blu-ray.

Not that I’d call the end result soft, but it simply failed to boast really strong delineation, especially during lower-light interiors. No issues with jaggies or moiré effects showed up, and I saw no edge haloes or print flaws.

Most of Flags went with a severely subdued palette. The Iwo Jima scenes looked nearly black and white, as they consistently seemed desaturated and colorless.

The shots back in the US were a little brighter and included some reasonably lush reds when necessary, but the visual design kept things flat. Within those constraints, the tones looked appropriate.

Blacks were deep and full, while shadows seemed clear and concise. Overall, this became a more than watchable image, but it could use an update.

In addition, the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Flags worked well, as the soundfield proved involving and effective. Unsurprisingly, battle sequences offered the most active sections.

They used all five channels well to integrate the viewer into the warfare. Elements meshed together smoothly and created a broad, seamless environment. Music showed good stereo imaging as well, and speech was accurately localized.

Audio quality seemed positive. Speech was concise and natural, with no edginess or other problems. Music sounded lively and bright, while effects were well reproduced.

Those elements sounded accurate and tight, with good, deep bass response. The disc lost points due to the absence of a lossless option, but it still provided quality material.

How did the Blu-ray compare with the DVD version? Both came with the same Dolby Digital 5.1 mix, which – as mentioned – meant the Blu-ray got docked a little since it lacked a lossless version.

Visuals offered the usual format-based improvements, as the Blu-ray looked better defined and smooth. Though the DVD worked well for its format and the Blu-ray could use a new version, the BD still became the more satisfying edition.

All the set’s extras appear on a second disc and we begin with an Introduction by Director Clint Eastwood. In this five-minute, five-second clip, Eastwood really offers his reflections more than he introduces anything.

He discusses his own memories of the battle and the WWII era along with notes about the current status of the Iwo Jima location. It's a decent enough little piece but not anything particularly memorable.

Most of the other supplements come from a collection of featurettes. Words on the Page, we get a 17-minute, two-second piece with comments from Eastwood, author James Bradley, and screenwriters William Broyles, Jr. and Paul Haggis.

“Page” looks at the origins and development of Bradley’s book. We get notes about why he took on the project and his research. From there we find info about the book’s adaptation into a screenplay.

Both sides of “Page” offer rich details, but the first half seems the most satisfying. Bradley provides many nice backstories about the various soldiers on Iwo Jima and fleshes them out well. The show coalesces into a nice program.

Six Brave Men goes for 19 minutes, 51 seconds as we hear from Eastwood and actors Ryan Phillippe, Adam Beach, Jamie Bell, John Benjamin Hickey, Jesse Bradford, Barry Pepper, Benjamin Walker, Joseph Cross, and John Slattery.

In “Men”, we get a little more info about the movie’s characters as well as casting and the performance choices made by the actors. As with “Page”, this one splits between its two topics, and it does so well. It balances the background with the filmmaking information in a tight manner that allows it to become useful and engaging.

Next we find The Making of an Epic. This 30-minute, 11-second show features Eastwood, Phillippe, Pepper, Walker, Bradford, producer Robert Lorenz, director of photography Tom Stern, editor Joel Cox, costume designer Deborah Hopper, military technical advisor Sgtmaj. James D. Dever, USMC (Ret.), production designer Henry Bumstead, art director Jack G. Taylor, Jr., special effects coordinator Steven Riley, property master Mike Sexton, and actor Paul Walker.

Here we learn about Eastwood’s interest in the project, how he got involved in it, and elements of his working style. After that we move through various aspects of visual design, editing, casting, costumes and period details, and military specifics.

We also find out about locations, shooting the battles, visual effects, research, props, Eastwood’s work with the actors and others, and some closing thoughts.

Though “Epic” includes a lot of good details, it doesn’t explore these in a terribly logical manner. It just sort of flits from one topic to another and doesn’t manage to flow very smoothly. I like the information included, but I think the program needs to move in a more coherent manner.

For the three-minute, 26-second Raising the Flag, we hear from Eastwood, Cross, Pepper, and Benjamin Walker. They give us some details of recreating the iconic flag raising. This is a perfectly serviceable little piece, though I’m not sure why it wasn’t simply incorporated into the longer “Epic”.

Visual Effects lasts 14 minutes, 55 seconds and includes Eastwood, visual effects supervisor Michael Owens, Digital Domain visual effects producer Julian Levi, and Digital Domain visual effects supervisor Matthew Butler.

As expected, this show looks at all the ways visual effects were used to bring the battles and other elements to life. We get a little of this material in “Epic”, but “Effects” digs into things with much greater depth.

Some nice “before and after” demonstrations work especially well. All of these components allow it to become a nice exploration of the subtle use of digital elements and other forms of effects.

In addition to the film’s trailer, we end with Looking into the Past, which fills nine minutes, 26 seconds with archival film. We get historical footage and stills of the assault on Iwo Jima.

The featurette also includes a short newsreel look at the three Iwo Jima survivors whose story fills Flags. This is quite interesting to see and I wish the disc had included more of this sort of material.

Flags of Our Fathers ends up as one of the strongest movies from Clint Eastwood. Flags tells a rich story in a clear, nuanced manner that makes it satisfying. The Blu-ray presents generally positive picture and audio along with a pretty informative collection of extras. The Blu-ray could use an update but this nonetheless turns into a fairly good release for a fine film.

To rate this film visit the original review of FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS

Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main