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FIRES ON THE PLAIN

Japan, 1959 (MIFF 1966, Programme 10)

Director: Kon Ichikawa

Fires on the Plain, like director Ichikawa's earlier Harp of Burma, is concerned with the futility and horror of war, and protests at the private suffering which comprises this social catastrophe. It reveals the Japanese army on the island of Leyte, in the final stages of defeat and disintegration, and shows the shattered and pitifully exhausted soldiers crawling about the blistering plains like diseased ants.

The film has a ferocious immediacy. No film has recorded the physical and mental degradation of an army with such obsessive zeal. We are shown men reduced to animalism, tormented by hunger, delirium, and finally cannibalism. The controlled bravura of these sequences is contrasted with the heightened delight of the few moments of fleeting pleasure. But there are neither sequences nor shots in this slow, contemplative film which do not carry significance essential to its argument and emotional experience.

See also...

ALONE ON THE PACIFIC

Japan, 1963
lchikawa has filmed the true story of a young Japanese who sailed a 19-foot yacht from Osaka to San Francisco in ninety days of solitary adventure. But unlike the men of the Kon Tiki, he had no scien… More »

THE MAKIOKA SISTERS

Japan, 1983
"The Makioka Sisters" is based on one of the classics of Japanese literature, a family epic along the lines of "The ... Forsyte Saga" or, "The Magnificent Ambersons", by famous ... writer Junichiro T… More »

THE WANDERERS

Japan, 1973
Set in nineteenth century Japan, The Wanderers has been likened in its theme to Easy Rider. It follows the adventures of three "toseinins', unemployed young men who roam the countryside, living off p… More »

THE TEMPLE OF THE GOLDEN PAVILION

Japan, 1976
This is another film version of Yukio Mishima's story of the same title, which was first filmed by Kon Ichikawa under the title of Enjo. ... In his childhood, Mizoguchi has been taught by his father … More »

DORA-HEITA

Japan, 1999
Based on a script written by Akira Kurosawa, Dora-Heita is directed by his 85-year-old friend and collaborator, Kon Ichikawa and returns to a golden age of Samurai sagas. Koheita Mochizuki is a samur… More »

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