Fires on the Plain

Fires on the Plain

4.0 6
Director: Kon Ichikawa

Cast: Eiji Funakoshi, Mantaro Ushio, Yoshihiro Hamaguchi

     
 

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 TamuraSee more details below

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Overview

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.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Mark Deming
Few films have captured the horror and futility of war with the bleak power of Kon Ichikawa's Fires on the Plain. Near the end of World War II, as Japanese soldiers attempt to flee the Philippines before the arrival of invading American troops, soldier Tamura (Eiji Funakoshi) is perhaps the most damned of all men. Suffering from a severe case of tuberculosis, Tamura is unfit for duty, but the Japanese field hospitals have no beds for a man destined to die soon of consumption, so he is doomed to wander the jungles as his fellow soldiers sink deeper into hunger, disease, and madness. His journey reaches a shocking conclusion when he encounters a band of soldiers who have resorted to cannibalism in order to survive. While it's hard to imagine a film presenting a more unrelentingly grim portrait of war, Fires on the Plain does not concern itself with shock for its own sake. Ichikawa (with the help of cinematographer Setsuo Kobayashi) wrings a dark poetry from this story, as the soldiers struggle to hold on to the last threads of their dignity and humanity, until they finally submerge into insanity at its most beastly. There is a terrible desperation as the men cling to such precious commodities as potatoes and salt, but also a flash of human compassion as they share their meager treasures. And Funakoshi delivers a unforgettable, profoundly moving performance as Tamura; from the first time his deep, haunted eyes meet the camera, we sense that we are visiting a ghost sent to give us a vision of hell, and, as we follow him through the Philippine jungles, that is exactly what he presents to us.

Product Details

Release Date:
03/13/2007
UPC:
0715515022620
Original Release:
1959
Rating:
NR
Source:
Criterion
Region Code:
1
Presentation:
[B&W]
Time:
1:44:00
Sales rank:
42,011

Special Features

New, restored high-definition digital transfer; New video introduction by Japanese-film scholar Donald Richie; New video piece featuring director Kon Ichikawa and actor Mickey Curtis; new and improved English subtitle translation; Plus: A new essay by film critic Chuck Stephens

Cast & Crew

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Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Fires on the Plain - The Criterion Collection
1. "That Will Be Your Final Duty" [5:59]
2. A Soldier's Journey/Opening Credits [7:04]
3. Native Dish [5:20]
4. "If You Can Walk, You're Not a Patient" [9:00]
5. Attack! [4:33]
6. Many Days Passes...And Many Nights [2:29]
7. The Price of Salt [8:34]
8. Oshima Company [6:39]
9. March of the Dead [3:02]
10. "Men Can't Live Without Tobacco" [3:34]
11. Boot Exchange [2:45]
12. The Road to Palompon [5:51]
13. Night Crossing [3:32]
14. Tale No Prisoners [4:06]
15. "Hey, Are You Dead?" [2:28]
16. Food for Thought [3:46]
17. Reunion [11:42]
18. "Monkey Meat" [8:11]
19. A Splash of Blood [4:15]
20. Fires on the Plain [1:31]
1. Color Bars [:00]

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