Universal acclaim - based on 37 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 34 out of 37
  2. Negative: 0 out of 37
  1. 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).
  2. 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.
  3. "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.
  4. One of the great war movies - or antiwar movies - of all time.
  5. 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.
  6. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    Eloquent, bloody, and daringly simple.
  7. 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."
  8. 100
    Taken together, Eastwood's masterworks - two of the best films of 2006 - may be Hollywood's last word on World War II.
  9. Clint Eastwood's profound, magisterial, and gripping companion piece to his ambitious meditation on wartime image and reality, "Flags of Our Fathers."
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. Reviewed by: David Ansen
    It's unprecedented, a sorrowful and savagely beautiful elegy that can stand in the company of the greatest antiwar movies.
  13. 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.
  14. Overall, the effect is presumably what Eastwood wanted: we are present at a momentous event, not watching a movie.
  15. 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.
  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. 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.
  18. 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.
  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: Scott Foundas
    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.
  21. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss/Richard Schickel
    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. 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.
  23. The humanistic approach makes Eastwood's movie a war story for the ages.
  24. 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.
  25. Reviewed by: Ken Fox
    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.
  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.
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 270 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 80 out of 99
  2. Negative: 13 out of 99
  1. KarenL
    Mar 8, 2009
    I was loving this movie. It was truly refreshing to see a crucial WWII battle from the Japanese point of view. In this film we see Japanese I was loving this movie. It was truly refreshing to see a crucial WWII battle from the Japanese point of view. In this film we see Japanese soldiers behaving both honorably and horribly. We see Japanese soldiers with a love for both honor and life. We also understand that so many suicides happened out of fear of their peers and officers. But then we see two American soldiers murder a pair of the few Japanese soldiers who actually surrendered on Iwo Jima. This is a such a complete lie that it instantly ruined the film's and Eastwood's credibility for me. Read any accurate history about this conflict and you'll discover that Japanese soldiers who actually did surrender were astounded by the compassion of the Americans. They had been taught to expect the worse. Yes that was the Japanese propaganda given to their soldiers. But our very own filmmakers feel compelled to propagandize the brutality of America. It's sadly ironic that a country that provides a director the freedom to combat propaganda chooses his medium to propagandize himself. This was and should have been a great film. It dies, like so many of those who committed suicide on that island, in a lie. Full Review »
  2. AnonymousMC
    Jun 5, 2007
    The Gut wrenching companion piece to Flags of our father succeeds at showcasing the misery of war, and a few unique twists into reluctantThe Gut wrenching companion piece to Flags of our father succeeds at showcasing the misery of war, and a few unique twists into reluctant sacrifice and hardcore nationalism. I hardly think it's anti-american, but I'm a little surprised none of our WWII veterans have raised their hands in protest of this film yet. Full Review »
  3. KazuoH
    Apr 28, 2007
    I was surprised at the fact that an Americal took this film. This movie was not able to be taken without the ability of seeing its own I was surprised at the fact that an Americal took this film. This movie was not able to be taken without the ability of seeing its own country from a third person. Probably such an ability should have been forming a strength of the U.S. The fact that Eastwood took the film cannot but eliminate Japanese streotype againt the U.S. even though Steve keeps his stereotype throughout a lifetime. Full Review »