[ Directed by ]
[ Produced by ]
[ Cast ]
• TSUKAMOTO Shinya TAMURA
• Lily FRANKY YASUDA
• NAKAMURA Tatsuya Corporal
[ Staff ]
• Original Story: OOKA Shohei
• Screenplay: TSUKAMOTO Shinya
• Cinematography: TSUKAMOTO Shinya
• Cinematography: HAYASHI Satoshi
• Editor: TSUKAMOTO Shinya
[ Production Company ]
[ Distributor (Japan) ]
Release Date: July 25, 2015
Running Time: 87 min
Genre: Drama, Mystery, Historical, Feature
Screening Format: DCP,Blu-ray
Screening Format with Subtitles
・English (DCP, Blu-ray)
[ Story ]
Live adaption of Ooka Shohei‘s same-named seminal novel about war, produced after two decades in germination. Although an indie film with Tetsuo: The Iron Man
director Tsukamoto Shinya handling six roles including director, lead actor and cinematographer, the world premiere took place at the 71st Venice International Film Festival in the official competition.
The island of Leyte in the Philippines at the end of World War II. Tubercular private Tamura (Tsukamoto) wanders through the jungle while being tormented by hunger and menace from enemy soldiers after being driven from a field hospital overburdened with wounded soldiers.
[ Official Site ]
[ Film Festivals, Awards ]
• 2014 Venice International Film Festival,Competition
• 2014 Toronto International Film Festival,Wavelengths
• 2014 TOKYO FILMeX, Opening Film
• 2015 Tokyo International Film Festival
It often happens that a remake is ‘inferior’ than the original. What, I think, due to the fact that the remake lacks that historical-social context that has in some way contributed to making great work of reference. When in 1959 Ichikawa Kon directed Fire in the plains (Nobi), adapting the eponymous novel by Ōoka Shōhei (written in 1951, and published in Italy by Einaudi in 1957), the wounds of the recent war were still more than open.
The strength of the Ichikawa film, as well as the Ōoka novel that the director followed with a high degree of ‘fidelity’, stood in his terrible history of cannibalism among the Japanese soldiers disbanded in the Philippines, able to throw a new and dramatic light on a still very much alive. It is inevitable that more than fifty years later the drama of this past, or rather the reception of it, has become somewhat weakened, and thus the images of Tsukamoto’s film, which closely follows that of of Ichikawa, touch the spectator less than what the original could do.
Shot in full color, unlike the 1959 film, played with remarkable effectiveness by Tsukamoto himself. Set in the Filipino forest, Fires on the Plain follows the dramatic wandering of the hungry soldier Tamura, a victim of tuberculosis, in a difficult attempt to reach the place where he can finally be rescued and brought home. In a lustful landscape that sometimes seems to double his feelings, others set themselves in resolute contrast to them, Tamura will discover that the enemy will not be so much the Filipino invaded, or the American his ally, as his own comrades, rendered like him, and even more, insane from the madness of war. “Either you eat me or I eat you” and the meaning of the sentence should be taken literally, you will hear the protagonist say from one of his companions, in a logic that so belligerence triggers but that is also proper to social living in many of its forms. Over everything, then hovers, the phantom of the anthropophagy, which, in a last glimmer of desperate humanity, the protagonist tries to resist.
Remaining true to their style, the director opts for a representation marked by strong elements of interiority, where frequent subjective images, the violence of the machine on the shoulder, the dream flashes, the overlays, the toning, give body to images marked by a brutal expressionist livery and produce effects of audiovisual paroxysm, in deliberately ‘ungrammatical’ forms, as happens for example, with the maximum evidence, in the scene of the (in) voluntary and casual killing of the Filipino girl.
The horrors of war are thus shown through the desperate gaze of one of its countless victims and are rendered concrete through harsh images of amputated limbs, human flesh teeming with worms, and tattered pieces of skin. There’s in the film, an evident horror taste, almost as if Tsukamoto had really managed to shoot his Night of the Living Dead.