Sunday, October 22, 2006



Corpsmen are members of the U.S. Navy Hospital Corps. They serve as enlisted medical personnel in a wide variety of capacities and locations, including shore establishments such as naval hospitals and clinics, aboard ships as the primary medical caregiver for sailors while underway, and with the Marine Corps units as battlefield corpsmen.

A runner is an enlisted man given the rather lowly job of being a messenger rather than participating in the battle.

Ryan Phillippe: John “Doc” Bradley, U.S. Navy corpsman
Jesse Bradford: Marine Private First Class Rene Gagnon, company runner
Adam Beach: Marine Private First Class Ira Hayes, an American Indian from the Pima tribe
Jamie Bell: Marine Private Ralph “Iggy” Ignatowski
Benjamin Walker: Marine Private Harlon Block
Paul Walker: Marine Private Hank Hansen

One of the most famous war photographs ever taken, the raising of the flag at Iwo Jima by five United States Marines and one Navy corpsman, is brought into sharp focus (sorry about that) in this epic movie replete with realistic action and moments of insight.

It covers a lot of ground and hits upon one of my pet peeves in movies: the use of flashbacks. Too often it’s impossible to tell which time line we are viewing. In this movie, flashbacks are used frequently (and often unexpectedly) and at times there are flashbacks within flashbacks. This jumping back and forth becomes very confusing unless you take note of the colour rendition:
 the Iwo Jima scenes are monochromatic, almost black and white
 the Stateside scenes have some colour in them
 the post-war scenes are in full colour

Despite the fact it runs over two hours, it does not seem that long which is a credit to the director as there are few (if any) dull moments.

for sequences of graphic war violence and carnage, and for language.

High-ranking United States military officers can be readily identified because of the yellow braid worn on the visor of their hats. The common derisive term for these embellishments is “scrambled eggs”. Although great attention to detail is evident throughout the movie, one lapse is evident during a planning session when a low ranking officer slams down the telephone and utters to no one in particular “those damn officers, just because they have scrambled eggs on their chest…” the point being it's not on their chests.

Prior to being introduced to the crowd, the group is waiting below the stands just outside the locker room of the Washington Senators, the American League baseball team. The problem is the team played from 1961 to 1971, some 20 years later.

Immediately before (or just after?) the photograph is taken, the photographer looks up and I think we see the flag from his perspective to be on the left hand side of the men, not the right hand side as published.

After taking the flag-raising photograph, Joe Rosenthal took a second one with the group standing at the foot of the raised flag. When later asked if he had staged the photo, Rosenthal not knowing how the first one had turned out, assumed they were inquiring about the second one which he knew he had. “Sure”, he replied and inadvertently began the false rumour that the flag-raising photo had been staged.

Stick around for the end credits to see a collection of still photographs of the real battle. It is worth noting how the movie very closely approximates these.

No comments: