Both Ridley Scott and Clint Eastwood are among some of the finest filmmakers in Hollywood. They have made several impactful and impressive additions to the history of cinema. However, sometimes, the widespread acclaim is also followed by criticism, not only from critics but also from notable figures from the industry. Scott, whose latest film, Napoleon, hit the theatres last week, has received criticism for “historical errors.”
However, the director didn’t seem too bothered with the criticism and even went on to blast the critics. Something similar happened after filmmaker Spike Lee accused Eastwood of misrepresentation in his movies based on the Battle of Iwo Jima.
Spike Lee Criticised Clint Eastwood’s 2006 War Drama
In 2006, Clint Eastwood released two back-to-back films based on the Battle of Iwo Jima, Flags of Our Fathers, and a companion film, Letters from Iwo Jima. The first film was known to depict the American viewpoint of the battle, while the second film states the story from the perspective of Japanese soldiers.
However, filmmaker Spike Lee expressed his dissatisfaction, saying that none of the films featured a “negro actor.” Speaking at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival, he accused Eastwood of misrepresentation in his movies. As per The Guardian, Lee said,
“He did two films about Iwo Jima back to back and there was not one black soldier in both of those films. Many veterans, African-Americans, who survived that war are upset at Clint Eastwood. In his vision of Iwo Jima, Negro soldiers did not exist. Simple as that. I have a different version.”
Not just Lee, veteran Thomas McPhatter also shared that he was concerned that the movie would not reflect on the Black participation during the battle. The Gran Torino star later responded to the criticism and fired back at the BlacKkKlansman director, stating why Flags of Our Fathers did not feature African-American actors.
Clint Eastwood Fired Back at Spike Lee
Clint Eastwood addressed Spike Lee’s criticism surrounding the lack of African-American soldiers in his 2006 film Flag of Our Fathers. He acknowledged that there was a black unit on Iwo Jima, but his film was about the Marines who raised the flag, emphasizing that it was highly inspired by the “famous flag-raising picture,” which did not have any Black soldiers. As per The Guardian, he said,
“There was a small detachment of black troops on Iwo Jima as a part of a munitions company, “but they didn’t raise the flag. The story is Flags of Our Fathers, the famous flag-raising picture, and they didn’t do that. If I go ahead and put an African-American actor in there, people’d go, ‘This guy’s lost his mind.’ I mean, it’s not accurate.”
He even went on to question if Lee has ]ever studied the history before remarking, “A guy like him should shut his face.” The back and forth between the two resulted in a bitter feud, as the Oldboy director once again spoke up on Eastwood’s comments.
Stating that the Unforgiven star “sounds like an angry old man,” he told ABC News, “First of all, the man is not my father, and we’re not on a plantation either.” He also criticized the filmmaker for personally attacking him with his comment.
Flags of Our Fathers is available on Paramount+.