Sixty-one years ago, US and Japanese armies met on Iwo Jima. Decades later, several hundred letters are unearthed from that stark island's soil. The letters give faces and voices to the men who fought there, as well as the extraordinary general who led them.
The Japanese soldiers are sent to Iwo Jima knowing that in all probability they will not come back. Among them are Saigo (Kazunari Ninomiya), a baker who wants only to live to see the face of his newborn daughter; Baron Nishi (Tsuyoshi Ihara), an Olympic equestrian champion known around the world for his skill and his honor; Shimizu (Ryo Kase), a young former military policeman whose idealism has not yet been tested by war; and Lieutenant Ito (Shidou Nakamura), a strict military man who would rather accept suicide than surrender.
Leading the defense is Lt. General Tadamichi Kuribayashi (Ken Watanabe), whose travels in America have revealed to him the hopeless nature of the war but also given him strategic insight into how to take on the vast American armada streaming in from across the Pacific.
With little defense other than sheer will and the volcanic rock of the island itself, Gen. Kuribayashi's unprecedented tactics transform what was predicted to be a quick and bloody defeat into nearly 40 days of heroic and resourceful combat.
Almost 7,000 American soldiers were killed on Iwo Jima; more than 20,000 Japanese troops perished. The black sands of Iwo Jima are stained with their blood, but their sacrifices, their struggles, their courage and their compassion live on in the letters they sent home.
From Academy Award winner Clint Eastwood ("Million Dollar Baby," "Unforgiven") comes the untold story of the Japanese soldiers and their General who defended against the invading American forces on the island of Iwo Jima.
In an effort to explore an event that continues to resonate with both cultures, Clint Eastwood was haunted by the sense that making only one film, "Flags of Our Fathers," would be telling only half the story. With this unprecedented dual film project, shot back-to-back to be released in sequence, Eastwood seeks to reveal the battle of Iwo Jima – and, by implication, the war in the Pacific – as a clash not only of arms but of cultures.
While they tell separate stories from different perspectives and in different languages, "Letters From Iwo Jima" and "Flags of Our Fathers" are Eastwood's tribute to those who lost lives on both sides of the conflict. The director hopes to tell both sides of the story and, with any luck, collectively reveal a new way of looking at this profoundly affecting moment in our shared history.
Warner Bros. Pictures and DreamWorks Pictures present a Malpaso/Amblin Production, "Letters From Iwo Jima," starring Academy Award nominee Ken Watanabe ("The Last Samurai," "Memoirs of a Geisha," "Batman Begins") as Gen. Tadamichi Kuribayashi, the Imperial Japanese General who led the resistance.
The ensemble cast also includes Kazunari Ninomiya, Tsuyoshi Ihara, Ryo Kase, Shidou Nakamura, and Nae. Directed by Eastwood from a screenplay by Japanese-American screenwriter Iris Yamashita, story by Yamashita and Oscar winner Paul Haggis ("Crash"), the film is produced by Eastwood, Oscar winner Steven Spielberg ("Saving Private Ryan," "Schindler's List") and Oscar nominee Robert Lorenz ("Mystic River").
Eastwood's longtime collaborators head the creative behind-the-scenes team: director of photography Tom Stern; costume designer Deborah Hopper; editors Joel Cox, A.C.E. and Gary D. Roach; and the late production designer Henry Bumstead, and production designer James J. Murakami. The late Phyllis Huffman served as casting director. Music is by Kyle Eastwood and Michael Stevens. "Flags of Our Fathers" and "Letters From Iwo Jima" are the last films of both Mr. Bumstead and Ms. Huffman. The former is dedicated to their memory.