Flags of Our Father's Essay

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Within Eastwood’s diverse repertoire of film exists a common thread. From his westerns to his more recent “mature” works, the topic of community—and its significance to the individual—has been examined continuously. This thematic exploration becomes especially interesting in Flags of our Fathers, as the community within the film isn’t your everyday group. Eastwood’s depiction of the military offers a new scope of community from the soldier’s point of view and their connection to it. From the outside looking in, the military may seem to be a place of strong unity and interdependence, however Flags of our Fathers exposes just how artificial the military community can be.

When Eastwood dives into the story of WWII at Iwo Jima, he initially builds a sense of interdependence within the military community, and then destroys it. Once the soldiers reach Iwo Jima, they will quickly discover that the military offers a rather artificial community, founded on “the layers of misunderstanding and calculated cruelty that fuel, then exploit, young men’s agony” (Vaux 143). For example, as the soldiers ship off to Iwo Jima they listen to music and sing along with each other on the boats. As the planes fly overhead, they cheer excitedly, wave their hats and put their arms around one another: there is a strong sense of camaraderie. However, once the planes fly overhead, a fellow soldier falls overboard into the Pacific. His other soldiers want to help him, but they face the harsh reality that they can’t stop for him. This is their first glimpse into the reality that their sense of patriotism and togetherness is all a gimmick to lure them into battle.

Another way in which Eastwood demonstrates the artificial community within the military is through the depiction of life after war. For example, one would expect those who share a bond in a close community to keep in touch and look out for one another long after their shared experience. However, the soldiers in Flags of our...
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