With that said, I meant to see the movie when it came out a few months back, but that would have involved leaving the cardboard-box world HQ during the football season.
So, I did go out and buy it Monday, the day it came out in DVD ... conveniently timed for the end of the football season.
The book is one of the greatest things ever written about WWII ... the story is compelling, of course, by itself. But it was also incredibly well told and powerful.
Not so much.
I liked it, and glad I bought it, but there was no way they could tell the story of the book in a two-hour movie. That's often the case, but they didn't really capture much about the six individuals in the photo.
The book did a tremendous job bringing these six boys to life. That was the beauty of the book ... you felt like you knew the six kids in the photo. The movie glossed over it.
For example, one of the dramatic themes in the book is the fate of a guy named Iggy (a friend of John Bradley, one of the flag raisers and the father of the man who wrote the book). You find out what happened to him at the end of the book (kinda like the unveiling of "Snowden's secret" in Catch-22).
The movie never tells you what happened. In fact, it kinda gives a half-hearted effort to work Iggy into the script.
The movie does do a couple things well, like:
* showing the impact the photo had on the American public's view of the war ... which, by the way, most people were fed up with ... there's a feeling around today that WWII was somehow popular.
* showing what kind of dire financial straits the country was in toward the end of the war, and the difference between a democracy fighting a war and a dictatorship: the U.S. government basically had to beg Americans to fund the war, and the photo made it easy to do so.
* the actors look like kids, which is what they flag-raisers were. In a lot of old war movies, the actors they used were way to old -- think John Wayne in the Longest Day or the Green Berets. You get a feel in the movie for just how young these guys were.
* There's also a scene that takes place in a dark room where the photo, right after it was shot, comes to life before your eyes. It gave me the chills.
Bottom line: read the book, even if the movie didn't do it for you.