DVD Review: Letters from Iwo Jima

Movie •••• Picture •••• Sound •••• Extras •••
Like most other films that were directed by Clint Eastwood, Letters from Iwo Jima is quiet, contemplative, and unsentimental in the extreme. But given the subject matter - the famous battle as experienced by Japanese soldiers aware of their own impending defeat and death - this movie adds an unspeakable sadness to Eastwood's usual mix.

The mood is largely conveyed through the film's look, in which almost all color has been meticulously drained from the picture. Tremendous depth and detail keep these images from seeming merely washed out on DVD. The razor-sharp close-ups of the Japanese actors reveal all the subtleties of their expressions. The film won an Oscar for sound editing; here, ambience lends atmosphere to the hushed sequences that set us up for the explosive, highly directional effects of the combat scenes. Ultimately, this DVD's picture and sound will likely rank among the best of the year.

Extras, though, are run-of-the-mill. A documentary, footage from the premiere, and a cast/crew press conference add up to only an hour, offering few surprises.

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