Yukinojo, a Kabuki actor, seeks revenge by destroying the three men who caused the deaths of his parents. Also involved are the daughter of one of Yukinojo's targets, two master thieves, and a swordsman who himself is out to kill Yukinojo.
It is the Philipines, 1945. The Japanese Imperial Army has been reduced to a ragtag mob hiding in the jungles. Among them is Pvt. Tamura. The situation goes from bad to worse and in the face of the brutal conditions facing the men, some go insane and resort to murder and cannibalism. In the midst of this, Pvt. Tamura tries to survive without giving up his principles.Written by
Eugene Ly <email@example.com>
Official submission of Japan for the 'Best Foreign Language Film' category of the 32nd Academy Awards in 1960. See more »
Dying Buddhist soldier:
[to Tamura as he opens his eyes]
What? You still here? Poor guy, when I'm dead, you can eat this.
[He outstretches his arm]
Dying Buddhist soldier:
[Disgusted by the thought, Tamura leaves]
Come back! You can eat me!
See more »
I got this movie out a week after the death of Ichikawa Kon - I suppose if there is one way to mark the passing of a great director, its to raise a glass of wine to him while watching one of his greatest movies. Ichikawa had one of the finest careers in Japanese film, but as he never had a distinctive style or theme he often seems to be overlooked compared to his near contemporaries such as Ozu and Kurosawa (he was a little younger than them, but not by much). He is one of those directors who defies auteur theories - its likely that his wife (who wrote the screenplay for this and many other of his movies) was as much responsible for the quality of the movies as he was. But at his best, he was as good as any Japanese film maker at the time. In particular, he had great technical skills, allowing him to tell complex stories in an accessible manner. But in terms of theme, this movie could hardly be simpler - war is hell. No really, its seriously hell.
Fire on the Plain doesn't follow the normal war genre rules. There is no real beginning - we start as the wretched Tamura, who is a regular private (although it is implied he is more thoughtful and educated than most of the others - at one stage it is shown he understands English, but he clams up when the others ask him how he knows it) is ordered to hospital, as his unit is already in an appalling state. The soldiers are defeated and starving to death. They are no longer an army, just a rag bag group of refugees - hunted by the locals, and pretty much ignored by the Americans, who have bigger fish to fry. Hunger and despair is driving the soldiers to the edge and beyond of madness.
In typical Ichikawa style, its not all just grim - its oddly funny in parts (a very black humour of course).
The high points of this movie to me are the outstanding performances from the leads and the vivid photography. The characters, in all their humanity, but also their complete loss of humanity, are all too believable. This is that rare film - one which will refuse to erase itself from your head, even if you want to forget it.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this