Fires on the Plain (Nobi)

Critics Consensus

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100%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 16

94%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 1,081
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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) | Fresh (16)

Audience Reviews for Fires on the Plain (Nobi)

  • Dec 21, 2013
    To what extent are the Japanese willing to go in order to bring more credible performances? According to IMDB, the cast was fed to a minimum and were forbidden from looking after their personal hygiene. They only had the aid of nurses. However, actor Eiji Funakoshi (Tamura) was never told not to eat. It was his decision to starve himself without anybody knowing about it... until he collapsed. Production was shut down for 2 weeks. If <i>The Burmese Harp</i> (1956) was Ichikawa's humanism testament, <i>Nobi</i> acts as a counterpart of dehumanization, anxiety, fear, madness, cannibalism and delusions. It achieves to be tense and psychologically disturbing, but it also manages to go even one step forward, placing Tamura as a character on his final stage of tuberculosis, slowly losing his humanity, but internally struggling to keep his sanity and adhering himself to his principles before he loses all connection with reality. The constant voiceover proves this struggle to be true. Hence, we have a powerful film that, despite some brief parenthetical digressions, never loses track of its course and offers the challenge to its audiences of making a decision: whether to empathize with the madness of the characters or not. I chose to do so, because I am pretty sure that this hellish psychological war-induced claustrophobia can only be understood by people that have tasted and smelled the battlefield and seen the repercussions in their comrades. I am praying that none of us here present are given a chance to prove whether if the depiction was accurate or not. Ichikawa always considered the quality of his original WWII-themed sources for the purposes of film adaptation. I trust him. 94/100 P.S. This is one of those movies that slowly grows in you and shouldn't be rated immediately.
    Edgar C Super Reviewer
  • Aug 03, 2009
    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 Super Reviewer
  • Jan 30, 2009
    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 Super Reviewer
  • Mar 04, 2008
    Grimly poetic examination of the horrors of war through the eyes of Japanese soldier stricken with tuberculosis, who is abandoned by his company and turned away from the hospital, and is forced to wonder through the decimated and unfamiliar Philippine countryside during WWII. Haunting and deeply affecting, this beautifully filmed and tragic portrait of the horrific realities and absurdities of war is one of the greatest war films ever made.
    Matthew L Super Reviewer

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