Allied victory over Japan proved inevitable at the Battle of Iwo Jima, which provided us with the most famous image of World War II. The harsh and bloody invasion of February 1945 offered the United States a base from which to attack Japan.
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Photojournalist Joe Rosenthal of The Associated Press snapped the picture that has come to symbolize the entire Pacific War. To appreciate its positive influence on a country reeling from the Japanese assault on Pearl Harbor, we must realize that the image is a re-enactment of an earlier flag-raising ceremony.
1. Sands of Iwo Jima (1949)
A hard-ass Marine Sgt. John Stryker (John Wayne) was nominated for his first Oscar for his role in the film. Following his men into battle on Tarawa, Stryker shows them he is serious about teaching them the skills they need to succeed in the war.
The unit eventually makes it to Iwo Jima, where it is heavily engaged in combat. Before the survivors see the American flag being hoisted, Wayne offers us one of his best scenes.
2. The Pacific (2010)
“The Pacific,” a 10-episode series produced by HBO and directed by Steven Spielberg, deserves to be as popular as “Band of Brothers.” One of the best episodes of the entire series, “Iwo Jima,” is included in episode 8. Medal of Honor recipient Sgt. John Basilone has grown weary of promoting war bonds across the country as a hero salesman.
At Iwo Jima, Basilone returns to training Marines and leads his troops into battle. The acting of Jon Seda as Basilone is amazing, and it pays honor to the Marine in a fitting manner.
3. Flags of Our Fathers (2006)
Clint Eastwood wrote and directed this film about the troops who raised the American flag in the famous post-battle shot. It was based on James Bradley’s novel that he penned the script. Until 2016, Bradley had long assumed that his father was one of those seen, but new evidence emerged in 2016 to the contrary.
Many of Clint Eastwood’s films deal with the fallout from heroic deeds and the lasting effects of fame. In that respect, “Flag of Our Fathers” is a definite fit. The post-war lives of the men represented in the photograph are tough, and the director wants us to reflect on what they went through.
4. Letters from Iwo Jima (2006)
This could only be pulled off by Clint Eastwood. The director wanted to present the narrative of Iwo Jima from the Japanese perspective when he created “Flags of Our Fathers,” therefore he shot it immediately after the first.
Japanese-language with subtitles film a few months after “Flags of Our Fathers” was more popular at the box office. Best Picture and Best Director were also nominated for the film, which also got four Oscar nominations.
When U.S. forces landed on the island, Japanese troops were in terrible health, and Eastwood makes it clear how hard of a struggle they were having. Because of this, the director wants the viewer to appreciate their bravery in defeat, and that makes their resistance even more astounding.
5. To the Shores of Iwo Jima (1945)
This short documentary, which was nominated for an Oscar and was shot in Technicolor, gives Americans a stunning new perspective on World War II.
In the midst of a gunfight, however, it’s difficult to obtain the footage you need. However, you won’t be able to tell which shots were taken in Thousand Oaks, California from the rest of the film.
Here’s a video of “To the Shores of Iwo Jima” You may also stream it on your TV with Amazon Prime or Hoopla.