Flags of our Fathers Notes (Ch. 1 – 12)

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Flags of our Fathers Notes (Ch.1 – 12):

  • People want an easy to understand truth.

  • Good Quote: “The right picture can win or lose a war”

  • Show students the famous Vietnam War photo of Nguyen Ngoc Loan raising his sidearm to shoot Vietcong operative Nguyen Van Lem in the head. This image is powerful as it isn’t clear who ‘the bad guy’ is. Captured on NBC TV cameras and by AP photographer Eddie Adams, the picture and film footage flashed around the world and quickly became a symbol of the Vietnam War’s brutality and along with the image of Kim Phuc Phan, singlehandedly drove the anti-war protests. Discuss the power of the image. Why is an image so powerful? Does a picture show the truth or can it be distorted.

  • Show photo of Americans raising the flag and analyse it. How did this photo impact the war? What don't we see in this image?

  • Analyse the way the film jumps from past to present - what do you make of the editing here?

  • 12000 Japanese defenders on Iwo Jima.

  • No such thing as ‘No Man Left Behind’

  • What image of America is portrayed in the first half hour of the film? Why?

  • What is the strategic significance of the island?

  • What do you make of the photos of prisoners of war? What does this say about the Japanese? Is it biased? Is showing the men these photos a strategy in ensuring that the men never surrender?

  • Why does the news broadcaster get the men to think about the girls at home with other men?

  • What image do we get of war from the start of the film?

  • Describe how Iwo Jima is portrayed in the film and research the accuracy of this portrayal.

  • Analyse the first contact with the Japanese on the island. How is each side portrayed? What film techniques are used and why? How would each side have felt at the time? Can we understand why each side does what it does?

  • Discussion of photo at the time: those in the photo have the potential to be shipped back to the U.S. for publicity and propaganda of the war. Comment on the response to this by each of the characters in the photo. Why did some not want to go home? (Ira Hayes).

  • Good Quote: Everyone who saw that photo immediately thought 'Victory' - looking at it you could believe the sacrifice was not a waste.

  • What can we say about the assumption made by the diplomat that Ira spoke Native Indian and Ira's reply that he had been away from the reserve too long?

  • How much of war relies on media portrayal? Does it exploit the tragedy of war?

  • When trying to work out who is in the picture and the following comment is made: "That's the story were selling" - does the truth matter here? Is the greater good of raising money for the war effort more important than the accuracy of the facts?

  • Debate topic: Nothing is more important than the truth.

  • The president says to Ira that he is a truer American than the rest of them - but that doesn't stop the rest of them from forcing the native Indians into reserves or from them thinking they had the right to fight the Japanese at Iwo Jima.

  • How does society exploit war heroes?

  • What comment is Eastwood making about the American involvement at Iwo Jima?

  • Analyse the guilt the men feel - the ice cream and sauce, men and blood - is it unrealistic to expect society to understand a concept as foreign to them as war if they haven't been in one?

  • The soldiers in the photo end up with telling small lies themselves: like Hanks mum that the one she thinks in the photo is Hank, is. Why does Doc go along with this and should he have?

  • How important is the truth? What is the truth?

  • Analyse the sound track and its effect.

  • Why are they told to raise a flag at this point of the battle even though there was still 35 days of battle before they officially won?

  • Analyse the flag raising scene and the American image here.

  • How important is the image portrayed? Are appearances more important than reality?

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