Letters from Iwo Jima


Universal acclaim - based on 37 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 34 out of 37
  2. Negative: 0 out of 37

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Critic Reviews

  1. Reviewed by: David Ansen
    It's unprecedented, a sorrowful and savagely beautiful elegy that can stand in the company of the greatest antiwar movies.
  2. Clint Eastwood's profound, magisterial, and gripping companion piece to his ambitious meditation on wartime image and reality, "Flags of Our Fathers."
  3. 100
    Eastwood's direction here is a thing of beauty, blending the ferocity of the classic films of Akira Kurosawa (Seven Samurai) with the delicacy and unblinking gaze of Yasujiro Ozu (Tokyo Story).
  4. 100
    A few scenes serve as hinges joining this movie to "Flags of Our Fathers." While Letters From Iwo Jima seems to me the more accomplished of the two films -- by which I mean that it strikes me as close to perfect -- the two enrich each other, and together achieve an extraordinary completeness.
  5. 100
    Letters From Iwo Jima, takes audiences to a place that would seem unimaginable for an American director. Daring and significant, it presents a picture from life's other side, not only showing what wartime was like for our Japanese adversaries on that island in the Pacific but also actually telling the story in their language. Which turns out to be no small thing.
  6. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    It takes a filmmaker possessed of a rare, almost alchemic, blend of maturity, wisdom and artistic finesse to create such an intimate, moving and spare war film as Clint Eastwood has done in Letters From Iwo Jima.
  7. Wall Street Journal
    Reviewed by: Joe Morgenstern
    The view taken by Clint Eastwood, directing from Iris Yamashita's exemplary screenplay, is elegiac, but -- and this is remarkable, given the nature of the production and the sweep of his ambition -- not at all didactic. He lets the film speak for itself, and so it does -- of humanity as well as primitive rage and horror on both sides of the battle.
  8. "Letters" isn't about numbers or the battle or even the morality of war. It's about the sanctity of life and how we value our own.
  9. 100
    Taken together, Eastwood's masterworks - two of the best films of 2006 - may be Hollywood's last word on World War II.
  10. Reviewed by: Stephen Saito
    Letters from Iwo Jima isn't just the film that Eastwood wanted to make, but one that the film's producer Steven Spielberg had tried to make twice with "Empire of the Sun" and "Saving Private Ryan."
  11. The word masterpiece costs nothing to write and means less than nothing in an age when every third picture and each new Clint Eastwood project is proclaimed as such. After two viewings, however, Letters From Iwo Jima strikes me as the peak achievement in Eastwood's hallowed career.
  12. It has few stars familiar to Americans, and it shares with "Pan's Labyrinth" the rare distinction of being a mainstream commercial movie with subtitles.
  13. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    Eloquent, bloody, and daringly simple.
  14. One of the great war movies - or antiwar movies - of all time.
  15. Overall, the effect is presumably what Eastwood wanted: we are present at a momentous event, not watching a movie.
  16. Clint Eastwood's Letters From Iwo Jima is his companion piece to "Flags of Our Fathers" and in almost every way is superior.
  17. Ironically, the challenge of directing a Japanese-language film with a non-English-speaking cast seems to have brought out the very best in Eastwood. His vision is alternately intimate and sweeping, his touch never seemed more light and sure, and several of his scenes are so delicate, dynamic and prototypically Japanese they could have been directed by Akira Kurosawa.
  18. 91
    Letters isn't a fun night at the picture show. It's slow and gloomy and achingly tragic. But it's a truly impressive achievement both in moviemaking and in its understanding of history.
  19. Now Eastwood turns on a dime and tackles not just his first war movie but two war movies of considerable scope and complexity. If he doesn't nail everything perfectly, he nevertheless has created a vivid memorial to the courage on both sides of this battle and created an awareness in the public consciousness at a most opportune moment about how war feels to those lost in its fog.
  20. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    Taken together, "Flags" and "Letters" represent a genuinely imposing achievement, one that looks at war unflinchingly -- that does not deny its necessity but above all laments the human loss it entails.
  21. Terse is the word for Eastwood's directorial style. It rarely editorializes; it doesn't emote or orate. It just tells the damn story of a soldier's honor, which means doing the job no matter the odds--indeed, no matter the mission.
  22. 90
    The special power of Eastwood's achievement is that, save for one indelible moment, the mutual recognition between sworn adversaries happens not on-screen, but later, as we piece the two films together in our minds.
  23. The humanistic approach makes Eastwood's movie a war story for the ages.
  24. 88
    This is sentimentality of the best kind, a touching display of male bonding amid terror and aching loneliness worthy of Howard Hawks at his finest.
  25. 88
    Letters From Iwo Jima, much like any war movie, honors the courage of men who took part in a war not necessarily of their making. But by placing us on the opposite side of the battlefield, the movie forces us to approach it from a fresh perspective.
  26. 83
    It's hard to explain exactly why Clint Eastwood's Letters From Iwo Jima is so much better than its companion World War II film "Flags Of Our Fathers," except to say that Flags tries too hard to emphasize the ironies of selling a war, while Letters deals with the ins and outs of the war itself.
  27. For my money, Flags (however clunky) cuts more deeply, but Letters is more difficult to shake off. Together, they leave you with the feeling that even a just and necessary war is an abomination.
  28. In the last half-hour, the story, like the Japanese, loses its way; lacking any clear-cut goals except survival, the film becomes repetitive. Letters From Iwo Jima is a necessary movie; too bad it's not a great movie.
  29. Reviewed by: Dan Jolin
    A sharper account of the Iwo Jima conflict than Flags, this balances its unflinching handling of the horrors of war with its touching portrayal of those who face them.
  30. 75
    Letters from Iwo Jima is a unique American-made war movie for at least two reasons: it depicts the battle from the perspective of the losers and it represents the United States as the "enemy."
  31. Far superior to its companion piece, "Flags of Our Fathers," released earlier this year, "Letters" is a grim and humane film that has to be counted among the director's better efforts.
  32. For all its emphasis on doomed honour and grim death, Letters from Iwo Jima is also sentimental.
  33. 70
    The project lacks the variety of sensuous pleasures that a great movie has to provide.
  34. Letters covers less emotional ground than its predecessor, because Eastwood and first-time writer Iris Yamashita (who shares a story credit with Paul Haggis) allow Japanese soldiers only three modes of behavior.
  35. 60
    Portraying the same 1945 confrontation from the vantage point of the Japanese was an inspired idea. Unfortunately, the movie it inspired is something of a letdown.
  36. 50
    Eastwood is so busy humanizing Japanese soldiers that he ends up rewriting history.
  37. 50
    Even with the great Ken Watanabe lending command and compassion to the role of General Kuribayashi, it's a formless slog across a treacherous field.
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 289 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 78 out of 102
  2. Negative: 13 out of 102
  1. Mar 23, 2013
    Never wait, but really loved it, there is no film more beautiful and exciting than this masterpiece, Eatswood amazed me every minute of thisNever wait, but really loved it, there is no film more beautiful and exciting than this masterpiece, Eatswood amazed me every minute of this epic work. The film works perfectly alone, without having seen 'Flags of Our Fathers', but obviously you can see its parallels. The fact that these characters fill us more, and connect more with them, do we show more interest in them and their stories. We can even say that some stand out above the rest, as for example happens to the character named Saigo, who gives life to a young Kazunari Ninomiya, and that is simply superb Internet, serving as a link between the other characters, including that of Watanabe Ninomiya protgoniza one of the most emotional moments of the film, near the end, and one of the few in which sounds wonderful music by Kyle Eastwood and Michael Stevens, who is close to what Clint Eastwood composed for some of his films, but perfecting it and making a score easily recalled and full of emotion. Yes, it sounds very occasionally, as the film seeks at all times not to fall into sentimentality, and shun all emotion, but it is telling us is terrible and emotional. But emotion is contained, that is breath, and as only the masters know show.
    Eastwood (or Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu for Babel) should have won the Oscar for best director. Scorssese maybe gave us the best movie of the year for The Departed, but the way this work Clint work is far superior to that of Martin, seeing it well I think that's clear but we can not fix that.
    Well this is one of the most beautiful and amazing movies of the decade 2000, if you have not seen, you have to see it.
    Not to be missed.
    Full Review »
  2. Jan 22, 2013
    A truly emotional and gripping movie, with an interesting plot perspective not typical of most American movies. With Letters from Iwo JimaA truly emotional and gripping movie, with an interesting plot perspective not typical of most American movies. With Letters from Iwo Jima Clint Eastwood does something special, he captures the emotional side of our enemy. Full Review »
  3. Nov 28, 2012
    Clint Eastwood's 2006 film "Letter From Iwo Jima" is a companion piece to his earlier film "Flags Of Our Fathers". It centers around the exactClint Eastwood's 2006 film "Letter From Iwo Jima" is a companion piece to his earlier film "Flags Of Our Fathers". It centers around the exact same events in "Flags", but the perspective is switched towards the Japanese army this time. One of the questions I had going into "Letters" was - is it better than "Flags". In short, yes. I found "Letters From Iwo Jima" to be an unbelievable piece of film that, I feel, every American should get a chance to watch. One of the greatest aspects of the film itself is the film's screenplay, which is written almost entirely in Japanese. When I initially found this movie to be almost entirely in a different language, I worried that this quality would impair my ability to sympathize with its characters. I was wrong. I found this film's characters perfectly written and easy to sympathize and care for. The acting also helps with character development in this film. Ken Watanabe plays General Tadamichi Kuribayashi, probably the greatest character in the film. Watanabe's portrayal of the General is so well-crafted that you just can't help but have an immense amount of compassion for him. In a visual sense, "Letters" utilizes the same sort of bleak and grainy style that was present in "Flags", and this (once again) really helps add to the underlying realistic and grim tone. Eastwood's expert directorial work also shines throughout this film. Overall, I found "Letters From Iwo Jima" to be an incredibly well-made and poignant war drama. Full Review »