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Sunday, Dec. 31, 2006


As influential as 'Rashomon'


In a stinging denunciation of the Clint Eastwood film "Letters From Iwo Jima," Robert McKinney, in his Dec. 17 letter, accuses Eastwood of drawing his material from unrepresentative sources. The "highly educated" wartime Japanese from whose letters Eastwood relied were more likely to have had compassion than the "rank and file," McKinney complains, before countering his own argument by stating that Hitler's henchmen during the Holocaust were "well educated."

McKinney further goes on to label Eastwood's primary motivation as jealousy of Steven Spielberg's "success in the war movie genre," to characterize Eastwood as "an old man in his second childhood" and to conclude that "all war films are nonsense." McKinney's letter is less confusing than it is confused, but in truth, that is what makes it so appropriate as a counterpoint; for the beauty of Eastwood's recent work is that his primary message is crystal clear even to those who have yet to see his films.

Eastwood chose to make two films on the subject of Iwo Jima: one from the American perspective and one from the Japanese. By taking this approach he is clearly suggesting that there are two sides to every story. As the world continues to reel from the implications that have accrued from the moral clarity and self-righteousness hubris of America's present batch of "well educated" leaders, Eastwood's primary message is truly welcome.

Eastwood's approach to Iwo Jima will surely go down in film history as no less influential than Akira Kurosawa's "Rashomon" -- a story of a rape and murder told from four different contradictory viewpoints. Once again, Eastwood has made our day.

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer's own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

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