Hero of Ivo-Zima by Delbert Mann (1961): I am not a hero

Recently added to the list of war films edited by Elephant Films, Iwo Jima’s hero In fact, it does not match the canons of the genre. For good reason: he only offers a minor role in battle scenes, preferring a bad portrait of the “hero beyond himself”. Delbert Mann’s works, published during the slim era for Hollywood cinema, actually discover the fate of Corporal Ira Hayes, one of the men featured in the famous American flag – raising photo on the Japanese island of Iwo Jima during World War II. Tony Curtis involves this man, who, by a simple coincidence, sees him progressing towards unworthy fame, which he cannot infer.

Delbert Deer, most famous for directing six years ago Marty (Oscar for Best Picture and Palm D’Or at Cannes), 1961 article by William Bradford Hui, a journalist dedicated to Ira Haas. The latter Bima Indian joined the Marine Corps in 1942 and participated in the Pacific War. He was one of six soldiers who hoisted the American flag on Mount Suribachi during the famous battle of Iwo Jima (February 19 to March 26, 1945) on the Japanese island of the Philippines. Island. The indestructible photograph of this moment (it was a stadium, the first flag, too small to be seen from a distance, mounted earlier in the day) was a huge success in the United States. U.S. political and military officials quickly seized on the propaganda potential of the shot, and decided to deport the three men who appeared in the photo to solicit them during a tour of the country in an effort to promote war ties. Ira Hayes, who suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and did not support this sudden pride, gave up alcohol a little and died in 1955 from the effects of alcohol poisoning.

Attentive reader of course Clint Eastwood, in Memories of our fathers (2006), dealing with flag hoisting (and political exploitation) in Iwo Jima. So this great film was preceded by the works of Delbert Mann four decades ago, and is now well forgotten. That is the difference between the two films Hero of Iwo-jima Ira is exclusively interested in the character of Hayes. So this is not a war film (as the cover film mentions), it is a genre that does not relate to scenes of training and brotherhood between veterans. On the other hand, the film deals with a number of subjects: the need for American heroes in general, the place of Indians in society, the war campaign, the suffering of a man who considers himself a traitor, the resistance between the public image and the true self-esteem, and so on.

Two aspects of Hayes’ character are highlighted. First, apparently, his tragic fate of seeing himself elevated as a national hero, and the crisis of conscience this wise man causes, and his friend Sorensen (shocked by the death by fire of James Francis; the character is fictional). The second aspect, less frequently emphasized, is the Indianness of the character. We find Hayes at the beginning of the film in a reservation in Arizona, where the Bima community has been trying for years to get the best irrigation for this desert area from the government. Horus’ race draws him into the army (sometimes he gets the nickname “leadership”), sometimes downplaying patriarchy, before forcing Sorensen’s respect by the force of his fists. The screenplay by Stewart Stern (who died in 2015), instead of being considered a subtext only, Living anger Or The Ugly American) Makes a central element of Hayes’ Indianness. Thus, Bima’s desire to represent its community in the military, and within the elite of the navy itself, is then reflected as an instrument of substance. As Hayes is doubled as an Indian because he is a “hero”, the military will put him further forward in his campaign efforts, allowing him to serve the dual American identity. The horrible paradox is that he is a proud military service company – for his own protection – which will lead to the discovery of alcoholism, which marks his loss …

In fact, this tragic end is representative of the alienation dilemma of Native Americans. In fact, Hayes will never stop feeling alien – this is the original title (Outsider) Explicitly indicates. Alien to the American nation, it has pushed its people into hospitable lands, alien to the world of whites who hate it, alien to the military world that does not perceive it as incompetent, alien to the true identity to which it is assigned. To make matters worse, when he returns to his community, his last refuge, he can only see that he has become a stranger …

The existence of Tony Curtis is openly debated. ‘S star is really inappropriate Some people like this hot (1959) In the role of an Native American, this is an obvious case Whitening, A habit already dated at the time of the film’s release … Today, it is undoubtedly difficult to ignore this anachronism, especially, as mentioned above, the Indianness of the character is an important element in the film. What a pity! Because, if there is nothing like the real Ira Haze, Curtis delivers high aircraft performance in this film, and we feel that the actor has invested a lot. His talent, in the service of an entirely complex character, and the dark tone of the film that denounces the artificiality of American hero worship, makes it a masterpiece far better than fallen oblivion.

Summary : Ivo-Zima’s “hero”, one of six people who lost the famous American flag there. Native American Ira Hayes finds it difficult to understand his new fame and the death of his best friend. After the war, he forgets his tribe and tries to reunite …


Only one accessory (other than the traditional trailer) is provided to us in this version, which is not much worse than the little known character of the film. Especially because the analysis of historian and film critic Laurent Agn, a member of the editorial board of L’Avant-Scan Cinema, is so interesting! The expert changes the key Hero of Iwo-jima In his time. For Hollywood cinema, the 1960s certainly marked a desert crossing (Agn wants to talk about a “period of change”), marked by a creative crisis, difficulties facing most major studios, and more. But this was a period of liberation from the corset of McCarthyism, when cinema itself called into question the representation of America. Agn recalls that the film was released twelve years ago Iwo Jima . In 1961, the audience was given a very critical performance. Regarding the representation of Indians in cinema, Tito acknowledges that Tony Curtis as Tony Curtis in the role of Ira Hayes is “no longer possible”. Curtis, its art choices are otherwise perfectly consistent because the actor starred in the previous year Spartacus, One of the first post-McCarthy films, which has already garnered a critique and a reconstruction of national mythology. Finally, Laurent Agn preserves this unjustly forgotten image, the forerunner of some masterpieces. Full metal jacket (Delbert Deer film showed for the first time in cinematic scenes of muscle military training) and The man who killed Liberty Valence (Questioning American historical representations), not to mention the already specific Eastwood film. We can only subscribe to this protection inspired by an unknown creation!

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DVD version Extras:

  • Image by Laurent Agn
  • Trailers

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