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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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Humanism Versus Patriotism?

Humanism Versus Patriotism?

Eastwood Trapped in the Bi-polar Logic of Warfare

(p.218) Humanism Versus Patriotism?
Eastwood's Iwo Jima

Mikkel Bruun Zangenberg

Columbia University Press

This chapter examines Clint Eastwood’s 2006 films Flags of Our Fathers and Letters from Iwo Jima, challenging the notion that they succeed in representing a universal humanism or as a critique of patriotism. Through an analysis of what it calls uneven narrative strategies, the chapter argues that Eastwood is caught in a dualist trap. It explains how these narratives—the national narrative, the narrative of friendship, the humanism narrative, and the narrative of the enemy—work in different directions and illustrate the challenge of representing warfare without reproducing the very dualities Eastwood tries to deconstruct. However, it also asserts that nationalism re-emerges and “that both films harbor hints of a proud, nationalist narrative,” noting that there is something distinctly noble about the Japanese general Tadamichi Kuribayashi, who insists on dying for his country, and something touching about the American soldiers sacrificing life and limbs as opposed to the politicians back in America, shipping off their sons to Harvard and Princeton.

Keywords:   film, Clint Eastwood, Flags of Our Fathers, Letters from Iwo Jima, humanism, patriotism, warfare, nationalism, Tadamichi Kuribayashi, soldiers

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