Battle of Iwo Jima and Film

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Joey Kuei (301115519) & Carlo Misajon (301112016) - IAT206W E101

Project Proposal: Battle of Iwo Jima and Film

Our project proposal is about exploring the Battle of Iwo Jima through two films: Letters from Iwo Jima, and Flags of Our Fathers, and looking at their different cultural perspectives of the historical event. It will be in a form of a website using a combination of text, images and videos to communicate our project.

We will use the ideas from McLuhan (“the medium is the message”, hot and cool media), as well as Stuart Hall’s “Encoding/Decoding” to demonstrate how these two films were presented. We are trying to explore and illustrate how cultures can affect the medium. Though they are both based on the same event, Letters from Iwo Jima ( based on the Japanese perspective) looks more at the concepts of death, suicide, and hope, while Flags of Our Fathers ( based on the American perspective) looks more in courage, honor, and rescue. We believe our project is going to be exciting and interesting because our idea is to see the battle with different points of view.

With the combination of texts, images, and videos, we believe that we can use the idea of hot and cool media well to show the tension of our project. Also, from Hall’s idea of encoding and decoding, we know that everything is encoded and decoded. For example, the Battle of Iwo Jima is encoded by the Hollywood film makers. They see these films as business, so they cover everything that is boring or unimportant and emphasis the emotions of the highlight of the event trying to attract more people watching the films. This would affect that everyone who watches the encoded films decoding different messages from the films; there could be no raw presentation of information.

MF: I would look for other McLuhan ideas other than Hot vs. Cool media. McLuhan is a hugely important figure in media theory of the 20th century so we have to discuss him in our survey, but probably nowhere is he most criticized as he is than along the hot vs cold media thing. In part, I think it’s because it’s just not very useful for conceptual analysis, one can’t really do much with these ideas other than say, “this is hot, that is cool, here is warm” etc. These concepts are most useful I think for understanding the PSYCHOLOGY OF INVOLVEMENT with media (how we interact with it), rather than for categorizing media. So, because I want your project to succeed, your website will feel very 60s if you dwell too much on the hot/cool thing. On the other hand, if you pretend your website was made in the 60s, make it pyschadelic, and tell a fiction that McLuhan and the internet were around at the same time making waves, that could be interesting, but it’s not what I gather is the point of your project! Another concept that may come into play here is Archive (because this is a Historical event and so there are Historical Archives that inform both films), so you may want to reference the Archive chapter’s ideas in this. It also occurs to me to ask—are you just going to be showing clips of these two films, are also including historical archival material of WW2 as well?

Also, I need to point out that All Over The World, FILM IS BUSINESS! You can’t denigrate Hollywood alone in this. All film industries are structured in a similar way—if there’s no profit, the studios go out of business, so film has always had this dual nature as art and business.

One thing I don’t understand—one film is the sequel of the other, and they have the same director. So you will only be analyzing Clint Eastwood’s construction of the two perspectives. I think you should be clear on this, you will be looking at two films that try to intentionally show two perspectives, so you should be aware of other works that try something similar, like Kurosawa’s The Rashomon Effect, or the Alexandria Quartet (4 novel sequence). The two films already try to construct the battle from two points of view, so what is your website going to do that the two films don’t already do?