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Clint Eastwood's Flag of Our Fathers

Thursday 21 December 2006 21:30-22:15 (Radio 3)

On Night Waves tonight, AS Byatt on why the European short story needs rescuing from American hegemony and Jonathan Miller on why ghosts haunt the British Christmas.


45 minutes


For the penultimate programme in this season of Night Waves, Matthew Sweet is joined by Adam Mars-Jones to review Clint Eastwood's queasy new take on war and propaganda. Flags of our Fathers tells the story of the iconic photo of US Marines raising the stars and stripes over Iwo Jima at the height of the war against Japan, and the fund-raising publicity drive the American Government spun out of the image's impact. How does the film sit against the sweep of Eastwood's decades of directorial work - and how will it resonate in a Britain approaching its fourth year under fire in Iraq?

Also on Night Waves tonight Matthew brings together novelists AS Byatt and Adam Thirlwell to discuss the European short story and why its distinctive forms have been smothered by the high-profile American version of the genre. What makes the European model unique and why has it fallen from view?

As a new adaptation of classic ghost story writer MR James comes to BBC 4, Jonathan Miller joins Matthew to explain why he thinks ghost stories and Christmas are so entangled in the British subconscious.

And TV shows like South Park and The Office may have a great reputation as taboo-incinerating, painfully funny comedy - but can they really help open up the fundamental questions of Western philosophy for a sceptical audience? The editor of a new series of books tells Matthew how he thinks they can.

Additional details:

'Flags of Our Fathers' opens in the UK on Friday 22nd December.

'Letters from Iwo Jima' opens in the UK on 23rd February

The new adaptation of MR James' 'Number Thirteen' goes out on BBC 4 tomorrow night at ten thirty.

'South Park and Philosophy' is published by Blackwells on the fifth of January, with others in the series following later in the year.

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