Departing from his penchant for dystopian cityscapes, Shinya Tsukamoto—director of Tetsuo: The Iron Man (1989) and acclaimed pioneer of Japanese cyberpunk—plunges us into the jungles of the Philippines during the end of WWII. Adapted from the classic semi-autobiographical novel by Shohei Ooka (previously adapted by Kon Ichikawa in 1959), Fires on the Plain depicts the degradation of an abandoned, sickly soldier of the Japanese Imperial Army (played by Tsukamoto) as he witnesses, and partakes in, the horrific atrocities of war. Tsukamoto’s updated, visceral take on the source material is a full-throated scream that warns contemporary Japan about the realities of warfare—a warning he heeds every year on the anniversary of the war’s end when cinemas across Japan host revival screenings of this film.
“From beginning to end, Tsukamoto confronts us with the horrors of war while refusing to countenance any notion of heroics—and the results, though not at all as pretty as the jungle landscapes, are unflinching, devastating and hard to forget.” —Little White Lies
“Shinya Tsukamoto’s brilliantly bonkers and bloody new film swings into Venice to remind us that war is hell, particularly if you are fighting on the losing side.” —The Guardian
In Japanese with English subtitles