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Eastwood's Iwo JimaCritical Engagements with Flags of Our Fathers and Letters from Iwo Jima$
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Anne Gjelsvik and Rikke Schubart

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780231165655

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231165655.001.0001

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The Forgotten Cinematographer of Mount Suribachi

The Forgotten Cinematographer of Mount Suribachi

Bill Genaust’s Eight-Second Iwo Jima Footage and the Historical Facsimile

Chapter:
(p.36) The Forgotten Cinematographer of Mount Suribachi
Source:
Eastwood's Iwo Jima
Author(s):

Bjørn Sørenssen

Publisher:
Columbia University Press
DOI:10.7312/columbia/9780231165655.003.0003

This chapter tells the story of Bill Genaust, the cinematographer who shot the second flag raising atop Mount Suribachi on February 23, 1945. There were two American photographers at work at the second flag raising: Joe Rosenthal and Genaust, a sergeant. But while Rosenthal’s photograph made him a legend, a second image of the same flag raising led an anonymous afterlife, and Genaust fell into oblivion. This essay places Genaust in the history of documentary film and discusses the role of the Marines’ cameramen in the Pacific as well as the use of the documentary in telling war history—primarily as part of documentary series on television. Tracing the changes in how the Pacific War was told at different times, the essay examines how contemporary issues reflect on the historical discourses. It also considers the function of the “historical facsimile” and its role in Clint Eastwood’s retelling of the war in the 2006 film Flags of Our Fathers.

Keywords:   flag raising, Bill Genaust, Mount Suribachi, Joe Rosenthal, military history, documentary film, Pacific War, historical facsimile, Clint Eastwood, Flags of Our Fathers

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