Fires on the Plain

1959

Drama / War

199
IMDb Rating 8 10 4,086

Synopsis


Downloaded times
June 15, 2020

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720p.BLU 1080p.BLU
958.83 MB
1280*720
Japanese 2.0
NR
23.976 fps
108 min
P/S N/A / N/A
1.74 GB
1920×1080
Japanese 2.0
NR
23.976 fps
108 min
P/S N/A / N/A

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by Bunuel1976 8 / 10 / 10

FIRES ON THE PLAIN (Kon Ichikawa, 1959) ***1/2

This is undoubtedly the most harrowing black-and-white war film that I've watched; as a matter of fact, the only Western director during this time to remotely approach its level of intensity and sheer visceral power in his work was Samuel Fuller. By the way, I had attended a Kon Ichikawa retrospective at London's National Film Theatre in September 2002, but only managed to catch some of his work made between 1960 and 1973. The film is certainly as depressing as it's reputed to be; however, it also displays welcome touches of black humor throughout - the 'dead' man who wakes up to answer a querying soldier and promptly 'dies' again, the deliciously ironic shoe exchange sequence, a moribund eccentric telling the famished hero which part of the body he should eat, etc. Incidentally, the script was written by a woman - Natto Wada, the director's own wife! Ichikawa is a versatile and prolific film-maker whose reputation may not be as high as it was during his peak years (1956-65), but his direction here is often striking - the startling pre-credits sequence (the hero is violently rebuked by his superior officer for being discharged from hospital earlier than expected!), the death of a surrendering Japanese at the hands of a gun-toting Philippine woman, the bombing of a hospital (with the medical staff running away to save themselves, leaving the wounded soldiers behind to crawl out of the shack at their own limited pace), the automated march in the rain of the disillusioned soldiers (which also involves the afore-mentioned business with the shoes that, actually, recalls a similar scene in ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT [1930]), a hill littered with the bodies of soldiers attempting to climb it, the finale, etc. Surely one of the film's major assets is the stunning cinematography of the unforgiving and desolate muddy landscape. The film is notorious for treating the taboo subject of cannibalism (almost 10 years before it became a staple of horror movies) but Ichikawa's approach is not only subtle but highly effective: the flesh is actually referred to as "monkey meat", while the hero is seen partaking only once (and promptly spits out the piece along with most of his decaying teeth!); conversely, when the weak underling soldier (played by Mickey Curtis who, despite his name, was a Japanese pop idol of the time!) rabidly indulges, the ground nearby is splashed with blood. In the supplements, Ichikawa remembers that Method-practicing lead actor Eiji Funakoshi (whose portrayal is unforgettable, by the way) arrived on the set at starvation point - with the result that production was forced to shut down for two weeks until he recuperated! Donald Richie's perceptive interview favors the nihilism of the film over the underlying patriotism behind such gut-wrenching recent Hollywood fare as SAVING PRIVATE RYAN (1998). FIRES ON THE PLAIN is universally considered to be one of its director's top efforts and, out of the several films of Ichikawa I've watched, the closest to it in spirit are THE BURMESE HARP (1956; another character-driven war film but with a spiritual tone, and which is also available on DVD from Criterion) and ENJO aka CONFLAGRATION (1958; which was actually given a limited theatrical showing locally, as part of a foreign-film week, a couple of years ago). Personally, I also have a particular soft spot for the director's stunningly stylized color extravaganza, AN ACTOR'S REVENGE (1963), which I've actually caught twice at the NFT in 1999 and the afore-mentioned 2002 retrospective.

Reviewed by MartinHafer 10 / 10 / 10

thoroughly unpleasant--just like war really is!

This is one of the most anti-traditional war movies about was I have seen. Instead of the typical films that stress glory and perhaps super-human characters (like John Wayne), this film is the exact opposite--stressing the de-humanization that ALSO happens in war. The story concerns the Japanese who are stranded in the Phillipines after the US returned in late 1944-early 1945. By the time the movie begins, the Japanese have clearly been beaten but because of the insane logic of Bushido, they cannot allow themselves to consider surrender. At one of many poignant moments, the lead character is told at the beginning of the film to report to the hospital since he isn't capable of fighting due to his TB. The problem is that the hospital won't accept him, so his commander tells him to once again go to the hospital--and if they won't accept him he should blow himself up with a grenade! Well, this happens just in the first five minutes of the movie--a lot worse things befall this soldier and the few stragglers because they won't surrender yet they are starving. Plus, there is a case in the movie where a soldier DOES try to surrender but is gunned down. This happened a lot later in the war because so often the surrendering Japanese soldiers booby-trapped themselves to blow up when they came near. In addition, the film shows the most vivid depiction of starvation and the accompanying madness of any film I have seen. In addition, cannibalism, cowardice and betrayal all accompany this very gritty, realistic and depressingly realistic film. You simply couldn't have made a better film of this type. Horrible but great because it IS war--not a sanitized Hollywood version of war.

Reviewed by mrreindeer 10 / 10 / 10

Sympathy for the Devils

Every American who thinks he or she understands World War Two should see this movie. Few Hollywood films about the war have defied the stereotype of Japanese soldiers as emotionless brutes obeying orders without thinking. We like to think that every Japanese man was ready and able to fight to the death, right up to the day we bombed Nagasaki. "Fires on the Plain" shows a different reality: troops pathetically undersupplied, demoralized and starved to the point of cannibalism. They euphemistically refer to human flesh as "monkey meat." The movie and novel on which it was based also put to death the myth that Japanese soldiers all preferred death to surrender: They had good reason to believe that their enemies were in no mood to take prisoners. To me it raises a question most Americans would rather avoid: If the Japanese military was so beaten down at this point in the war, why was it necessary to nuke Hiroshima?

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