Next fall, Clint Eastwood will simultaneously release two movies telling the story of the battle of Iwo Jima – one will be from the American perspective, and the other told from the Japanese perspective, TIME's Richard Schickel reports in TIME's What's Next special issue (on newsstands Monday, Oct. 17).
Beginning next February, Clint Eastwood will start shooting the companion movie to Flags of Our Fathers, tentatively called Lamps Before the Wind. Typically, Eastwood is not able to articulate fully his rationale for this ambitious enterprise: "I don't know—sometimes you get a feeling about something. You have a premonition that you can get something decent out of it," he says. "You just have to trust your gut."
He asked Paul Haggis, who wrote "Flags," if he would like to write the Japanese version as well. The writer of Million Dollar Baby and director of Crash, Haggis was overbooked but thought an aspiring young Japanese-American screenwriter, Iris Yama****a, who had helped him research "Flags," might be able to do it. She met with Eastwood, and once again his gut spoke; he gave her the job and liked her first draft so much that he bought it. It was she who insisted on giving him a few rewrites she thought her script still needed, TIME reports.
Taken together, the two screenplays show that the battle of Iwo Jima—and by implication, the whole war in the Pacific—was not just a clash of arms but a clash of cultures. The Japanese officer class, imbued with the quasi-religious fervor of their Bushido code, believed that surrender was dishonor, that they were all obliged to die in defense of their small island. That, of course, was not true of the attacking Americans. As Eastwood puts it, "They knew they were going into harm's way, but you can't tell an American he's absolutely fated to die. He will work hard to get the job done, but he'll also work hard to stay alive." And to protect his comrades-in-arms. As Haggis' script puts it, the Americans "may have fought for their country, but they died for their friends, for the man in front, for the man beside 'em."