DVD review: Fires on the Plain (5 out of 5)

Fires on the Plain
Fires on the Plain

This is a brilliantly conceived vision of the end of the second world war, from a Japanese perspective, that pulls no punches.

It’s a remake of the 1959 movie of the same name, directed this time by Shin’ya Tsukamoto who has a vast body of work as both director and writer under his belt.

The film is set in the Philippines during the final few days of the war.

The Japanese force has been decimated - strafed by unseen American planes, attacked by the locals and suffering from disease and starvation.

Tsukamoto plays a soldier, struggling with TB and desperate for food.

We follow his attempt to find what’s left of the army and to track down anything to eat.

It’s a beautifully crafted work, with the sheer horror, dirt and trauma of the troops contrasting superbly with the amazing flora, sunsets and seascapes of the Philippines.

Faced with impossible odds, the soldiers almost appear to be in an hallucinatory state towards the end of the film as they talk about the ultimate degradation, eating each other.

The fighting is bloody and brutal but, apart from one solitary figure, we never see the opposing troops.

It’s an impressive tour de force.

Fires on the Plain is out as a dual format DVD and Bluray.