For a few weeks now, a feud has been brewing between film directors Spike Lee and Clint Eastwood. Lee wants to know why there are no black characters in "Flags Of Our Fathers" and "Letters From Iwo Jima", Eastwood's two films about the WWII battle for that Pacific island.
Given the script that Eastwood was working with in "Flags Of Our Father's", which was based on a best-selling book about the men who planted the American flag on Mt. Suribachi, Iwo's highest point, it is difficult to know what Lee would have Eastwood do. There were 900 black Marines that took part in the battle, mainly as munitions runners. No doubt all of these men displayed bravery under fire equal to any of their white comrades, but there is no indication that any of them took part in the particular events or circumstances that are the subject of the movie. The movie follows a very specific group of Marines from the time they embark on the ships that bring them to Iwo, to the flag planting, and in some cases , beyond.
I guess Eastwood could have had a black marine deliver ammo to these guys at some point, and then immediately depart the screen. Is that what Lee wanted?
The matter of Lee including "Letters From Iwo Jima" in the complaint would lead one to assume Lee has not seen the film. It is told entirely from the viewpoint of the Japanese, and there are not more than 10 lines of English spoken by Americans in the entire film. For a black marine to have been included in this film would probably have required him to be captured and tortured by the Japanese, and the Lee would be complaining as to why the black guy was only used for that purpose.
This controversy recalls the one that came up when "Saving Private Ryan" hit the theaters, and black activists demanded to know why black soldiers weren't also shown assaulting Omaha Beach?
Well, there weren't any blacks in the units that assaulted Omaha Beach in the first wave, which is precisely what is depicted in the movie. It is an historical event being portrayed, not a politically correct do gooder exercise. Blacks did appear later in the day as truck drivers. Should Spielberg have included a scene of a black truck driver waving to Tom Hanks on June 7th so he could patronize the black audience?
What does Spike Lee want from Clint Eastwood, historical inaccuracy as a balm for ruffled racial feelings?