The legendary Clint Eastwood answered questions this morning about Flags of Our Fathers (Dreamamount, 10.20). Tall and trim, a model of silver-fox urbanity, he strode in and sat at a table in front of 60 or 70 seated entertainment journalists inside a small “ballroom” inside the Four Seasons hotel, and talked straight and plain about his World War II drama for just over 47 minutes.
The guy looked only slightly (or do I mean vaguely?) bowed by his 76 years. Tanned face, tight features, perfectly cut grayish-white hair, and wearing a beautifully tailored gray suit and light blue shirt with a tie with some kind of conservative dazzle pattern.
Before listening to this recording of the q & a, you should recall a few things.
Flags is Eastwood’s sad and elegaic drama that’s partly about the Marines who fought and died during the battle of Iwo Jima in early ’45, but is mostly about three veterans of that battle who raised the American flag on a pole atop Mt. Surabachi during the fighting, resulting in a photo that was sent around the world and came to symbolize the valor and sacrifice of U.S. forces.
These three men — — John Bradley (Ryan Phillipe), Ira Hayes (Adam Beach) and Rene Gagnon (Jesse Bradford) — were sent home to take bows and raise funds and build morale on a big public relations tour arranged by the military. Flags partly deals with the conflicted and/or buried feelings that arose from this effort, and from the conflict between two worlds — the godawful battle-of-Iwo-Jima world where everything was ferocious and pure and absolute, and the confusing, lost-in-the- shuffle world of back home, where almost everything felt off and incomplete.
This isn’t a review or reaction of any kind — that won’t happen for another several days. But I can at least say that Flags is a mature and very soulful meditation piece with its head and heart in the right humanistic place, and that a couple of hot-shot critic friends are feeling a good amount of respect and admiration for it.
It was also obvious that the room this morning was full of respect for Eastwood and his storied career as a director, with the critical highpoints (prior to Flags of Our Fathers) being Bridges of Madison County and the Oscar-winning Unforgiven and Million Dollar Baby.
Now that you know the basics, listen away.