This weekend I've started to write the first chapter of my Dissertation. Here are some quotes I've grabbed about the film 'Sands of Iwo' which will form the basis of discussion for some of the first chapter. I was looking for quotes which could enable to form a discussion about why this is a modernist war film. which isnt easy for this type of film but I've managed to get some good ones. The 1949 New York Times review quotes bring a smile to my face:
'Before the non-sanctioned Vietnam flicks (and before Saving Private Ryan), Hollywood once sanitized its war movies to conform to military standards that showed little realism and promoted American notions of heroism'
'Sands of Iwo Jima represents one of the better U.S. propaganda films of the 40s, filled with American ideals and values—and officially sanctioned by the U.S. Marine Corps.'
'It rises above mediocrity on the strength of The Duke's broad shoulders, from its historical value, and from the editing work that splices the actual war footage into the Hollywood production.'
John Nesbit 2006
http://oldschoolreviews.com/rev_40/sands_iwojima.htm (accessed 02 October 2010)
This film is often referenced as an example of militaristic propaganda in Hollywood. On the surface, it really looks like the canticle for American military and the scriptwriters Harry Brown and James Edward Grant spare no effort to teach the viewers about patriotism, self-sacrifice and other virtues that embody US Marine Corps.
Director Allan Dwan did a really impressive job in editing documentary war footage into the film, and the black-and-white photography works splendidly, making SANDS OF IWO JIMA one of the most realistic and exciting war films of that era. On the other hand, Dwan's zeal towards authenticity has hurt the film - some of the real life Marines and heroes of Iwo Jima appear in cameo roles playing themselves and their wooden, uninspired performances shatter the illusion.
Dragan Antulov 1999
http://www.imdb.com/reviews/212/21242.html (accessed 02 October 2010)
There is so much savage realism in "Sands of Iwo Jima," so much that reflects the true glory of the Marine Corps' contribution to victory in the Pacific that the film
These characters run the gamut of service film cliches, but they take on stature when the camera moves into the area of battle, and so indeed does "Sands of Iwo Jima" itself. It is obvious that Republic tried hard to make a film that would do full credit to the United States Marine Corps.
NY Times 1949
http://movies.nytimes.com/movie/review?res=9502EFD61E3EE03BBC4950DFB4678382659EDE (accessed 02 October 2010)
Racist, jingoistic, and overly infatuated with the power of authority (military, moral and American), Sands of Iwo Jima is a crude piece of propaganda that's as dull as it is self-righteous. With all the lunk-headed posturing of a military recruitment poster, it's a shamelessly macho tale that won critical and popular acclaim when it was first released in the aftermath of the war in 1949. (Tellingly, Wayne's attempt to replay a similar formula during the Vietnam conflict in The Green Berets led to widespread controversy and a hysterical backlash - obviously the nature of modern warfare and the public's taste for it had undergone a seismic shift in the intervening decades).
As a portrait of conservative American masculinity, this sees the macho myth at its strongest before the uncertainties of the Cold War, the rise of women's liberation and the swinging 1960s took their toll.
Marine Corps propaganda masquerading as a war movie, this mythical take on men and war allows John Wayne to build his tough-talking persona into a reactionary demi-god.
(accessed 02 October 2010)
It was made soon enough after the war that it is not afflicted with any of the revisionist tendencies that have appeared in more recent war movies, but being made after the war freed it from the need to be explicitly a propaganda film. In short, it’s allowed to be more realistic than a film made just a few years earlier but it is still unabashedly patriotic.
Paul Mcelligott (2007)
(accessed 02 October 2010)