Two become one: shot back-to-back and shifting perspective from Yanks to Japanese, Eastwood’s war movies work best as cinematic partners, each informing the other’s square-jawed tribute to ordinary courage under fire. As well as separate releases, the films come bundled together with a battalion of extras.
Even on the small screen the movies exude their own quiet power, yet Eastwood’s attempt to deconstruct myths of heroism and humanise a defeated enemy still feels too neat and tidy for its own good. These are an old man’s films: stoic, misty-eyed missives from another age when it was still possible to talk about heroism and honour without an ironic wink. “The heroes of Iwo Jima are the guys who didn’t come back,” explains Eastwood as his mournful piano score dominates the soundtrack. Cue lump in throat.
Like the movies, the extras are worthy, well-made outings that could have come straight off the Hallmark Channel: lots of behind-the-scenes footage and talking-head interviews. “He didn’t want any John Wayne ra-ra-ra let’s go kill some Asians,” screenwriter Paul Haggis says of Clint in doc Words On The Page, the first and only time these discs get to talking about anything as sensitive (or interesting) as race and racism. Pity nobody bothered to record a yak track. Poor show.