SPECTREFEST: Fires on the Plain

Far from a typical war film, Shin’ya Tsukamoto (Tetsuo, The Iron Man) keeps Fires on the Plain a fiercely subjective first person account of the literal horror of war. A loose remake of Kon Ichikawa’s 1959 masterpiece, Fires chronicles Japan’s retreat from the Philippines in the waning final moments of WWII. Tsukamoto (boldly taking on triple-duty as main actor, director and cinematographer) plays Private Tamura, a writer prior to the draft, who deeply despises killing. Suffering from tuberculosis, and forced into the bowels of the Philippine jungles when his commanding officer and field clinic refuse to give him shelter, Tamura descends deeper and deeper into a hallucinatory world of starvation and garish, grindhouse violence. Rather than war with a capital W, Fires’ focus is the horrifying decimation of the psyche that comes with it.

Dir. Shin’ya Tsukamoto, 2014, DCP, 87 min.