An agonizing portrait of desperate Japanese soldiers stranded in a strange land during World War II, Kon Ichikawa’s Fires on the Plain is a compelling descent into psychological and physical oblivion. Denied hospital treatment for tuberculosis and cast off into the unknown, Private Tamura treks across an unfamiliar Philippine landscape, encountering an increasingly debased cross section of Imperial Army soldiers, who eventually give in to the terrifying craving of all. Grisly yet poetic, Fires on the Plain is one of the most powerful works from one of Japanese cinema’s most versatile filmmakers. Edit Translation
- Bahasa Indonesia
An anti-war movieThis is a rare classic and deserves all the applause it has got over the years. This movie is not for the squeamish, there are many moments that are really hard to watch and though there is some humour, it is rather dark. The story is set towards the end of World War II in the Philippines campaign. The Japanese are all but beaten and only Bushido is preventing them from surrender. This movie follows the travels of our hero through the jungle in a desperate struggle to survive. There are some unforgettable poignant moments such as when Tamara throws away his rifle, when he throws away his shoe, when he discovers an unseemly pile in an abandoned village, and when he realizes the origins of 'monkey meat'. The action sequences are few but they are hard-hitting. The actual action is momentary while there is intense buildup. The bombing of the hospital, the crossing of the road, the finale sequence, if the director had wanted he could have pulled off much more action but he chose not to. This is not an action film but a chilling reminder of the actual non-action reality of war.
This was made in 1959 but this is a movie that could not be improved upon. Its setting is unique and perspective from the Japanese side ( non-nationalistic and anti-war) is rare. The theatrical Japanese way of acting ( I personally dislike the overacting) is missing here and in fact the acting is remarkably subtle. The cast was so committed to the movie that they starved and did not take care of personal hygiene with the lead actually collapsing after two weeks of self imposed starvation.