Fires of the Plain (Nobi) (1959)
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Kon Ichikawa's adaptation of Shohei Ooka's novel Nobi takes place in the Philippines at the end of World War II. The Japanese army is in hasty retreat from the incoming American forces. The soldiers have also been warned that the Americans will take no live prisoners, and so their flight is all the more desperate. One group of men harbors a soldier named Tamura (Eiji Funakoshi) suffering from the last stages of tuberculosis. Knowing he is facing imminent death anyway, Tamura is able to resist submitting to the chaos and demoralization that overtake his fellow soldiers (who fall so far as to commit murder, cannibalism, and go insane). Eventually Tamura becomes involved with a couple that has returned in order to pick up a cache of salt. He shoots the wife and chases off the husband, bringing him one step closer to losing his humanity. ~ Perry Seibert, Rovi … More
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Critic Reviews for Fires of the Plain (Nobi)
This downbeat but fervent pic goes much further than the accepted war masterpieces in detailing humanity in crisis, and the spark left in one man. Production one of the most searing comments on war yet made.
Packs a powerful antiwar message. As with Eastwood's Iwo Jima, it dispels the myth that every Japanese soldier had the suicidal desire to die for his country.
The performance of Eiji Funakoshi as the straggler cannot help but make you feel a terrible sense of the human waste and pathos represented in the ruin of this poor man.
No other film on the horrors of war has gone anywhere near as far as Kon Ichikawa's 1959 Japanese feature.
We are reminded that all are marked by the atrocities of war and that winners and losers alike have to bear the burden of their memories and struggle to find their humanity anew once peace returns.
Kon Ichikawa's Fires on the Plain is another searing anti-war exercise that makes its point simply by showing the suffering and degradation of Japanese soldiers abandoned and left to their own devices in the Philippines as World War II winds down.
... a grim and gruesome and at times macabre autopsy of its (selectively Japanese) victims.
The scabrous fury of Fires on the Plain feels closer to the heart of the notoriously hard-to-pin-down Japanese director.
One of film's great statements of pacificism; search it out.
Magnificently shot in widescreen black and white, this is a truly harrowing work.
The world that director Ichikawa brings to the screen (based on the 1951 novel by Shohei Ooka) is difficult to bear--a world of brutality, pain, death, destruction, and cannibalism -- in short, a world of war.
Audience Reviews for Fires of the Plain (Nobi)
A brutal look at the last days of the second World War for a group of Japanese soldiers in the Philippines. Our protagonist is a TB-infected soldier who the hospital won't admit because he isn't sick enough, as he 'can still walk". He is run out of his unit because he is eating valuable food -- mostly yams -- and not able to contribute to gathering it. He then meets up with a variety of soldiers who aren't much better off than he is. He witnesses illnesses, cruelty, starvation and even cannibalism in the end. The horrifying events shown are even more shocking in that the story is based on true-life, a book written by a soldier who witnessed all this and probably more. The only ising that keeps me from giving this a higher rating is the first few minutes of the film. Our protagonist is standing at attention while he is reamed out by his commander. This reaming-out is basically exposition of the story. I would have liked it more had the action been played out rather than just explained. But other than that, a quality film from beginning to end.More
another brilliant film from the great kon ichikawa. fires of the plain deals with taboo subjetcs for japanese culture such as the surrender of soldiers in the time of war and cannabalism, but there is a sense of honesty and reality in the portrayal of these things. the camera work and acting were perfect, and although the story hit a wall for about 20 minutes in the middle, it picked back up and ended with excellence. beautiful anti-war film.More
[font=Century Gothic]In "Fires on the Plain", it is February 1945 and things are going disastrously bad for the Japanese army in the Philippines, having lost an enormous amount of men in combat. And the return of PFC Tamura(Eiji Funakoshi) from the hospital after three days treatment for tuberculosis is not helping matters for there is little food left and the men are digging unnecessary air defense trenches with pans and other improvisatory tools just to keep busy. He is ordered to return to the hospital, and if they don't keep him this time, he is ordered to use his handgrenade on himself.[/font]
[font=Century Gothic]"Fires on the Plain" is a harrowing and bleak movie about the dehumanizing effects of war which is helped from being told from the vantage point of a single ordinary soldier. It is unique for a war movie in that the outcome is not in doubt. The battle has already been fought and now all that matters is survival at any cost.[/font]
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