Fires on the Plain
Directed by Shinya Tsukamoto
In the final days of World War II, occupying Japanese forces in the Philippines face resistance from the local population and the American offensive. The dwindling Japanese soldiers attempt to survive through the horrors of war.
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★★★★½ review by Dave Jackson on Letterboxd
Fires on the Plain is a gut-churning effort from Shinya Tsukamoto that once again proves his limitless energy as a writer, director and lead actor. It's one thing that Tsukamoto performs all these roles, but it's another thing altogether that he performs each role so well. Fires on the Plain is impeccably directed, showcasing Tsukamoto's signature love of intense bursts of hand-held lunacy (I'm no fan of shaky cam, but Tsukamoto is one of the few filmmakers who can pull it off) and mind-blowing sound design. And his performance as a slowly dying soldier is perhaps his best acting yet. Tsukamoto clearly put his body through hell to make this. He finishes up the film a walking zombie with ribs jutting out of his chest and hollowed out eyes. Fires on the Plain is a film that presents war as complete and utter hell — rotting corpses, limbs flying off in different directions, maggots, flies, fist fights over yams. Unlike other modern war films that purport to be grimy and gritty, there is zero glamorisation here. It could in fact be Tsukamoto's most upsetting and brutal film. Some will see the cinematography in this as ugly and cheap. Some will find its violence too much. Others will find its lack of narrative boring. Personally, as difficult a film as it is, I think it's up there with Tsukamoto's best.
★★★★ review by matteoB on Letterboxd
Hey stupid reviewers out there, it's not a remake of Ichikawa's movie, but a reinterpretation of the novel, understood?
★★★★★ review by Chris Brown on Letterboxd
Up there with Come and See as a film that unflinchingly portrays the horrors of war. There is just death, suffering, insanity and barbarianism.
Often when I see films like this, the idea of a devil or hell become laughable. There is nothing out there that can outdo the horrors we can do to each other.
An anti-war masterpiece.
★★★★★ review by Nathan Stuart on Letterboxd
Within the first few minutes Tsukamoto effectively removes any romantic notions of war, before taking the viewer on a BRUTAL (without feeling exploitative) and unrelenting journey that reduces its characters to little more than empty shells, showing and acting on only the most base of human instinct.
A remarkable film with Shinya at his very best, both behind and in front of the camera. Possibly his finest work to date.
★★★★ review by Jaime Grijalba on Letterboxd
One of the harshest war movies out there in terms of how raw it is when it comes down to actually show the details of how it all goes down. Obviously it lacks any of the lyrical profound qualities of the original work, but this one has its values on their own, mainly because of the always crazy always moving Tsukamoto camera that makes this more a sensory experience than one of the mind or the heart. It plays with a lot of things in terms of visual material, but at the same time it manages to surprise you and keep you fixed to the screen at all moments. Maybe not the best inspired project, but at the same time not a worthless one.
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