Fires on the Plain (Nobi) (1959)

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Movie Info

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

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Critic Reviews for Fires on the Plain (Nobi)

All Critics (16) | Top Critics (6)

Brilliantly bonkers and bloody.

Jul 11, 2017 | Full Review…
Guardian
Top Critic

Not an easy watch but a highly rewarding one.

Jul 11, 2017 | Full Review…

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.

Oct 23, 2007 | Full Review…
Variety
Top Critic

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.

Apr 26, 2007 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

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.

May 9, 2005 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

No other film on the horrors of war has gone anywhere near as far as Kon Ichikawa's 1959 Japanese feature.

Jan 1, 2000 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Fires on 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.

Cindy I
Cindy I

Super Reviewer

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.

danny d
danny d

Super Reviewer

Beautifully shot, but disturbing stuff here. This is how war movies should be made.

Tim Sigur
Tim Sigur

Super Reviewer

[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][/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]

Walter M.
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

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