Speilberg & Iwo Jima

Dan Wetzel

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I have heard and read that there is a good possibility that Steven Spielberg with be working on a new movie based on the Battle of Iwo Jima. Basically a Pacific counterpart to Saving Private Ryan.
Stephen Ambrose will also be a involved with this project, although I'm not sure if it will be any more than a consultant.
Does anyone know much more about all this?
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[Edited last by Dan Wetzel on September 23, 2001 at 04:00 PM]
 

SteveGon

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I haven't heard anything about this but it sounds very interesting!
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Tino

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Where have you heard and read?
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Dan Wetzel

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Ambrose was on Letterman Friday night and mentioned this.
I looked into it a little more and read some articles on the internet. Heres one: http://ww2.pstripes.osd.mil/01/apr01/ed041001c.html
"Spielberg wants to do a film on Iwo Jima," Ambrose said. "So the pressure just grew. Finally, I said OK, I’ll do a book, but let’s focus on the major battles — Guadalcanal, Guam, Saipan, Tarawa, the Philippines, Iwo Jima, Okinawa.
"And maybe touch on the big invasion that never happened — the plan to invade the Japanese main islands," he added.

It looks like its in the very early stages. But I would love to see this film come to life.
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Inspector Hammer!

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That does sound interesting, and if true, i'll definatly be seeing it for nobody films war like Steven Spielberg. However, am I the only one who thinks that Steven should lighten up a little, and do something a little more fun and magical for a change? He's been a real downer these past few years with Shindler's List, Saving Private Ryan, and Band of Brothers that he needs to do something magical that recalls the Speiberg that made E.T., Close Encounters, and the Indiana Jones trilogy! He did do A.I. though, witch was good, but then he got right back into the serious stuff again. Steven, give it a rest man for a movie or two.
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God bless the USA and the men and woman of our military and their families!
 

FilipM

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Great news!!!
My only concern is with how Spielberg treats the Japanese soldiers. I love SPR but I'm disappointed by its near total de-humanization and cold depiction of the German soldiers. Of course I obviously root for our guys to win, but after repeated viewing the distant way Spielberg deals with Germans becomes troubling. For example when one of our guys gets shot or wounded he cries out in pain and its often very graphic and emotional, but when most if not all of the Germans are killed they just fall down and that's it. I'm always amazed by comparing SPR to German war movie called "Stalingrad". Here in this depiction of the cruelest battle of the cruelest and most hate filled military campaign in human history we see the Russians portrayed as real people. One man longs for his mother as he dies while others cry out in agony as they burn to death, just like their German counterparts. The story is much more effective this way, it shows we are all just people, individuals with real pain and real life stories. SPR and many other war movies just make the enemy a faceless, homogenous and perhaps even inhuman mass of "others" who are little more than props to be shot at.
I'm especially concerned considering the unfortunately accurate popular reputation of the fanaticism displayed by Japanese soldiers during the war. It will be all too easy for Spielberg to fall into the trap of desperate drunken "Banzai" charges by anonymous screaming hordes mowed down by US machine gunners. I remember a particularly touching true account of the Iwo Jima battle that could be included in this film to humanize the Japanese soldiers. Basically a group of American soldiers kill a Japanese infantryman just as he's about to
throw a grenade. While searching his body for any documents they find, tucked neatly at the base of his helmet, a picture of this man with his family; a wife and two small children. The American Iwo Jima veteran who participated in this even said even the most aggressive and brave combat tested troops among them openly cried when they saw the photograph. This scene must be in the movie....
I honestly hope Spielberg reevaluates his style regarding depiction of the enemy for this upcoming film.
[Edited last by FilipM on September 23, 2001 at 03:09 AM]
 

Gabriel Martin

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Steven, give it a rest man for a movie or two.
Well, Minority Report is suppose to be an exiting thriller. Kind of more like what he did when he began with Jaws, Indy etc.
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[Edited last by Gabriel Martin on September 23, 2001 at 12:03 PM]
 

Brad Vautrinot

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I saw Spielberg either in the SPR supplement section or on a t.v. interview - I can't remember which one - where he said he wanted to make a war film that takes place in the Pacific Theater. If it is Iwo Jima, be prepared for ten times the action and gore that was present in SPR. Almost 200 Medals Of Honor were awarded in that one battle alone.
I'm especially concerned considering the unfortunately accurate popular reputation of the fanaticism displayed by Japanese soldiers during the war.
FilipM, perhaps I misread your post, but why do you find the accurate depiction unfortunate? And, it's not a popular reputation, it's true. Their bushido code was sacred to the Japanese military man. Banzai charges in the face of certain death were often made and from what I've read and heard, they were not "drunken". As with the Kamikaze pilots, they were given one shot of saki before doing their thing and saki was a rare commodity for soldiers during the last stages of the war.
During that period of time Japanese soldiers were excessively cruel, barbaric, and had an intense hatred of non-Japanese people, especially Americans (sound familiar?). Their beliefs and culture were incomprehensible to us then and still are but to a lesser degree. I had a beloved uncle die in a Japanese prison camp in Bataan which prompted me to do years of research on this subject. I'd suggest reading The Dyess Story by Lt. Col. William Dyess, Prisoners Of The Japanese by Gavan Daws, and Ghost Soldiers by Hampton Sides which gives a true picture of atrocities committed as well as to the thinking behind these actions.
Speaking for myself, I'd find it impossible to cry if I found the picture of a Japanese soldier's family tucked away in his helmet knowing that his comrades-in-arms did things like cutting out the unborn child of a Filipino woman because she tried to give a cup of water to a prisoner on the Bataan Death march.
 

Richard Kim

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Yeah, the Japanese military commited some horrible atrocities in Asia during WWII, like the Nanking Massacre, or Korean, Chinese, and Filipino women being forced into prostitution as "comfort women" for Japanese soldiers. Unfortunately the Japanese government seems to want to sweep it all under the rug and do not really cover it in their textbooks.
[Edited last by Richard Kim on September 23, 2001 at 04:41 PM]
 

FilipM

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By "popular" I meant known, widely acknowledged, the and of course accurate.
As for unfortunate, well that's my personal judgement because of the cruel Japanese mindset in the war.
Now about the Japanese record of cruelty in the Pacific war. This is also true. However the Eastern Front war between the Nazis and Communists was far far far far far worse in cruelty, political hatred, racial hatred, size, numbers of dead, and was on a completely different scale than the pacific war. If you want to compare, there were over 27 million Russians killed and over 90% of ALL German WW2 military and civilian casualties were in the east and the Russian invasion of Germany in winter/spring 1945.
Yet with all this history of cruelty the German movie Stalingrad managed to portray the Russians as real people and not just an enemy horde.
All I can say is that Spielberg will make a mistake if he does the Japanese like he did the Germans in SPR. There is a greater danger of overdoing it because of the resentment towards Japanese wartime behavior as you show in your post, and because of the cultural differences. Its important to show both sides. Now I have noticed many Americans regard "showing both sides" as some sort of approval for the enemy. This is not meant to imply the enemy is right or just, its only to show they have a story too. They are real people as well, with real lives and some damn interesting accounts of the war as well. It will be a better movie if Spielberg does it this way.
Oh yea the real veterans of Iwo Jima had no trouble crying when they saw the picture. Your position looking from 50 years later is much different than theirs. The movie about the Iwo Jima should show what the actual veterans experienced not what Americans today want to see about the war or what they find hard to do. Our perspective of perfect hindsight is much much much different than what our fighters had in the war.
 

Dan Wetzel

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If they do show the Japanese on Iwo Jima, we probably won't see much of them. They pretty much just hid out in the caves and tunnels. Also, every single Japanese who was defending the island was killed (some 22,000).
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FilipM

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The world doesn't end if you aren't visible to the enemy all time. There were many interesting things going on from the Japanese side as well. For example did you know that Iwo Jima was virtually undefended and mostly unfortified except for a small garrison and some IJN aircraft only about 6-8 months before the final US invasion? During this time the US Navy was shelling the place on a daily basis, but were diverted to the Philippines, allowing the IJA and IJN a respite to heavily fortify the place. A small scene dealing with the Japanese build up couldn't be that hard to do and tie into the story, perhaps as some foreshadowing of what awaits our guys in the attack. I can understand Spielberg wanting the movie to focus on the US troops, and that's perfectly natural. However it will hurt the movie if the Japanese are only done as cardboard cutouts or just an unfortunate nuisance holding up the movie's progress to the emotional flag raising scene.
 

Adam Nixon

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I wouldn't neccessarily say that SPR completely "dehumanized" German soldiers -- I think Raiders of the Lost Ark is a much better example of stereotypical Nazis.

There was the conflict over the German gunner that the unit captured after taking out a turret, American soldiers killing surrendering Germans at Normandy, and a stand-off in the French village that was ended by slaughtering the German soldiers. The story was told from the American viewpoint and as such there wasn't that much room for any type of German character development -- it wasn't designed to have a viewpoint other than the immediate chaos of the battlefield.
 

ChristopherS

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Wouldn't this story be much better if it was presented by Bruckheimer and Bay. Just imagine a beautiful love story set in the Pacific Theater starring Ben Affleck (Matt Damon could do a cameo).
Spielberg would use too many realistic shots which would just take away from the love story!
Can anyone say "Oscar"!

Chris
 

JohnE

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"Wouldn't this story be much better if it was presented by Bruckheimer and Bay. Just imagine a beautiful love story set in the Pacific Theater starring Ben Affleck (Matt Damon could do a cameo)."
Heh, scary thought.
I would love to see Speilberg do a war film set in the Pacific though. But damnit, quit with the other stuff until you've got a new Indy film going!
 

Dan Wetzel

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I'd like to see them use unknown actors, similar to what they did with Band of Brothers. I guess SPR was the same way at that time, as well. Now most of those actors are quite famous.
I'm sure it will have Oscar potential as well.

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