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During World War II, the U.S. military hired cameramen and famous directors to film as much of the war as they could, hoping to document the experience and tell stories to build morale at home. The bravery of the cameramen, long forgotten people who often died in filming these battles, is incredible. As for the films themselves, they are a mixed bag. At their best, they look like John Huston’s The Battle of San Pietro, a true work of art. At their worst, they are like Milton Sperling’s To the Shores of Iwo Jima, which is a pretty racist film that’s not all that well put together and is just kind of cheap propaganda. There’s still plenty of reason to watch this movie–the footage is incredible. And not being a war guy, I always had the sense that the climb up Mt. Siribachi that led to the famous photograph/footage (shown here) of the marines raising the flag was the end of the battle, but no, there was a lot of brutal fighting to come. But as a film, it’s not that great.