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Fires on the Plain
Japan - 1959
Directed by Kon Ichikawa


Japan's futile attack in the Philippines in 1945 is chronicled in this well-acted film who's message seems to be - war is hell.

The story follows Tamura, a loathsome pacifist soldier who wants nothing more than to be committed to a hospital but keeps being sent to the front.  The other soldiers scorn him for acquiring rations and being treated special as they dig trenches by hand with no shovels.  He returns once again to the hospital, but without bribes he can't get in, so he takes up with the hospital outskirt group who vie for food and aren't to be trusted.  As the hospital is bombed he is left to flee for his life.  He joins up with the remainder of a defeated troop, who are also wiped out by American troops.  He then meets back up with the remainder of the hospital outskirt group who are now so starved they turn to each other for food.

The hopelessness of the Japanese is contrasted with the vengeful Philippine army and the cavalier Americans.

Well-done war flick tells it like it is - muddy hell.

Runtime: 105 minutes.

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