‘Letters From Iwo Jima,’ Iris Yamashita

Original screenplay contender

DISTRIB/RELEASE DATE: Warner Bros./ Dec. 20

STORYLINE: The companion film of Clint Eastwood’s “Flags of Our Fathers,” “Letters” examines one of the last and bloodiest battles of World War II from the Japanese perspective.

ABOUT THE SCRIPT: “I love doing research,” says Yamashita. “I read a lot of books and wanted to include personal stories, but it was very difficult and hard to come by, because everyone had died. I had to go to the UCLA special military journal collection, where I found a diary and then got it translated.”

BIGGEST CHALLENGE: “Trying to make sure to give everything balance, sticking with the factual history while making it interesting. I got notes from the executives and other people that we wanted to make sure we didn’t offend the Japanese government and the descendents (of Iwo Jima). (“Flags” scribe Paul Haggis) said not to worry about that, just work on writing a good story. You can edit that stuff afterward that might seem offensive, but, initially, your goal is just to write an interesting story.”

BREAKTHROUGH IDEA: “I wanted to make sure I got a broad spectrum of the soldiers, so (audiences) wouldn’t think that they all thought the same way. … I definitely tried to base everything on something factual. For the dialogue, you have to fictionalize what you don’t know.”

CHOICE LINES: Gen. Kuribayashi (Ken Watanabe): “If my children can live one more day of a free Japan, that would be worth the one more day we suffer instead of surrender.”

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