(aka 'Nobi' or 'Fires on the Plain')

Directed by Kon Ichikawa
Japan 1959

 

  Stunningly composed in black and white on a widescreen DaieiScope canvas, FIRES ON THE PLAIN is beautiful to look at (its magnificent Philippine vistas swallowing the insignificant Funakoshi) although philosophically horrible to contemplate. The world that director Ichikawa brings to the screen (based on the 1951 novel by Shohei Ooka) is difficult to bear--a world of brutality, pain, death, destruction, and cannibalism--in short, a world of war. In it Ichikawa has created one of the great indictments of war and one of the most painful examinations of humanity. Unfortunately, the videocassette is not letterboxed (except for the opening-credit tease), virtually destroying the power and beauty of the visual composition.

Excerpt from TV Guide located HERE

***

Odd to think that the remarkable Japanese director Ichikawa started his career with satiric comedies, when this film made 10 years later is one of the most painful and graphic depictions of the inhumanity of war ever committed to celluloid. A cross between his own anti-war film The Burmese Harp and von Sternberg's Anatahan, this depicts a group of Japanese soldiers marooned on a remote island in the Philippines without supplies. Exhausted by battle and near starvation they begin eating corpses and degenerate to full-blown cannibalism, preying on the weak. Magnificently shot in widescreen black and white, this is a truly harrowing work.

Excerpt from Channel Four located HERE

***

Wandering in dazed retreat from the advancing American army, a Japanese soldier crosses the appalling devastation of a Philippine island, his life spared only because his tubercular condition makes him unfit for consumption by the starving, dehumanized masses who hide in the rubble. No other film on the horrors of war has gone anywhere near as far as Kon Ichikawa's 1959 Japanese feature; it's obsessionally fixed on the sheer horror of human existence, and the terror and hopelessness keep mounting.

Excerpt from Dave Kehr's review at the Chicago Reader located HERE.

Posters/Video Covers

Theatrical Release: November 3rd, 1959

Reviews    More Reviews    DVD Reviews

DVD Review: Criterion - Region 0 - NTSC

From the Essential Art House - 50 Years of Janus Films

DVD Box Cover

   

CLICK to order from:

(click titles for DVDBeaver reviews)

The Essential Art House - 50 Years of Janus Films is a 50-disc celebration of international films collected under the auspices of the groundbreaking theatrical distributor. It contains Alexander Nevsky (1938), Ashes And Diamonds (1958), L'avventura (1960), Ballad Of A Soldier (1959), Beauty And The Beast (1946), Black Orpheus (1959), Brief Encounter (1945), The Fallen Idol (1948), Fires On The Plain (1959), Fists In The Pocket (1965), Floating Weeds (1959), Forbidden Games (1952), The 400 Blows (1959), Grand Illusion (1937), Häxan (1922), Ikiru (1952), The Importance Of Being Earnest (1952), Ivan The Terrible, Part II (1958), Le Jour Se Lève (1939), Jules And Jim (1962), Kind Hearts And Coronets (1949), Knife In The Water (1962), The Lady Vanishes (1938), The Life And Death Of Colonel Blimp (1943), Loves Of A Blonde (1965), M (1931), M. Hulot's Holiday (1953), Miss Julie (1951), Pandora's Box (1929), Pépé Le Moko (1937), Il Posto (1961), Pygmalion (1938), Rashomon (1950), Richard III (1955), The Rules Of The Game (1939), Seven Samurai (1954), The Seventh Seal (1957), The Spirit Of The Beehive (1973), La Strada (1954), Summertime (1955), The Third Man (1949), The 39 Steps (1935), Ugetsu (1953), Umberto D. (1952), The Virgin Spring (1960), Viridiana (1961), The Wages Of Fear (1953), The White Sheik (1952), Wild Strawberries (1957), Three Documentaries By Saul J. Turell plus the hardcover, full color 240-page book.

Distribution Criterion / Janus Collection - Region 0 - NTSC
Runtime 1:44:04 
Video 2.35:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 7.2 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

Audio Japanese (Dolby Digital mono) 
Subtitles English, None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion / Janus

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1

Edition Details:

• none

DVD Release Date: October 24th, 2006

loose-leaf slip holder inside binder
Chapters: 21

 

 

Comments:

NOTE: The individual release of this film onto DVD is reviewed HERE.

I feel saddened that this work is presently only available in The Essential Art House - 50 Years of Janus Films collection as this immensely impacting film should be more readily available to all cineophiles. Magnificent cinema that I feel honored to have had the opportunity to see! It ranks as one of the best films I have ever seen.

The transfer is very good - minimal digital artifacts, some wear and tear on the image with occasional light scratches and marks, but overall it has Criterion's hallmark of stupendous contrast and strong detail. The optional subtitle font reminds me of a Home Vision release but I'd say this looks a notch higher. There are no digital supplements on this dual layered disc.

THE COLLECTION: This is like nothing ever seen before - accurately described as:

'Packaged in a heavy slipcase binder (remember, lift with your legs, not your back), one volume contains the DVDs in sturdy cardboard pages; the other volume is a hardback book with introductory essays and essays about each of the films.

Janus Films is the precursor to the Criterion Collection, and this set is far and away the most beautiful art object the company has ever created. The substantial and subdued packaging is meant to stand the test of time, as are the films immortalized within. From The Seventh Seal to Jules And Jim to M and Pygmalion and The 39 Steps, this exquisite set is the art house DVD release of 2006, if not the decade.

The 200-page book provides context for the films and is worth reading in its own right. Martin Scorcese offers a brief and celebratory introduction, reminiscing about the thrill of seeing the antiquated Janus Films logo when attending a movie in one of New York City's art house theaters. Film historian Peter Cowie's essay about the history of art house cinema in America casts light on how films by directors like Akira Kurosawa and Ingmar Bergman first found American audiences. These days it's easy to take for granted our access to films from around the globe, but in the early 20th century it was only due to the efforts of a passionate few that these great films found theatrical life in the United States. Many of these films, particularly those from Europe, boasted more liberal attitudes about such things as sex and war, facing the threat of censorship and hostility from Hollywood-fed audiences who weren't accustomed to considering films as works of art. Janus Films evolved as a way to bridge these cultural gaps, introducing Americans to foreign sensibilities and big-screen stories that transcended language. '

Now the logistics of buying this set can be greatly determined by how many of these Criterion DVDs that you already own... and how much you might value the remaining ones. If you consider the book itself to be in the neighborhood of $60-$100 then you can get a fair estimation of what the remaining discs would be valued at - BUT on the positive - you would still be getting 2nd copies of the duplicates. These could simply kept as back-ups (trust me - this is not such a crazy idea).

NOTE: None of the discs in the collection have extras - all supplements from the individual Criterions have been stripped.

Waxing somewhat philosophically I can personally state that certain films in this collection (ex. L'avventura , Ikiru, Pandora's Box, The Rules Of The Game, Seven Samurai, The Seventh Seal, The Spirit Of The Beehive,  La Strada, Ugetsu, Umberto D. ) have altered not only my perception of cinema, but of life as well - making them virtually priceless. This collection is the single greatest purchase a cineophile could possibly make. Regardless of it being the Holidays, I encourage you to treat yourself to this gift of timeless art and beauty - it will last you a lifetime. 

Gary W. Tooze

 

 



DVD Menus


 


Subtitle Sample

 

 


 

Screen Captures

 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 

DVD Box Cover

   

CLICK to order from:

(click titles for DVDBeaver reviews)

The Essential Art House - 50 Years of Janus Films is a 50-disc celebration of international films collected under the auspices of the groundbreaking theatrical distributor. It contains Alexander Nevsky (1938), Ashes And Diamonds (1958), L'avventura (1960), Ballad Of A Soldier (1959), Beauty And The Beast (1946), Black Orpheus (1959), Brief Encounter (1945), The Fallen Idol (1948), Fires On The Plain (1959), Fists In The Pocket (1965), Floating Weeds (1959), Forbidden Games (1952), The 400 Blows (1959), Grand Illusion (1937), Häxan (1922), Ikiru (1952), The Importance Of Being Earnest (1952), Ivan The Terrible, Part II (1958), Le Jour Se Lève (1939), Jules And Jim (1962), Kind Hearts And Coronets (1949), Knife In The Water (1962), The Lady Vanishes (1938), The Life And Death Of Colonel Blimp (1943), Loves Of A Blonde (1965), M (1931), M. Hulot's Holiday (1953), Miss Julie (1951), Pandora's Box (1929), Pépé Le Moko (1937), Il Posto (1961), Pygmalion (1938), Rashomon (1950), Richard III (1955), The Rules Of The Game (1939), Seven Samurai (1954), The Seventh Seal (1957), The Spirit Of The Beehive (1973), La Strada (1954), Summertime (1955), The Third Man (1949), The 39 Steps (1935), Ugetsu (1953), Umberto D. (1952), The Virgin Spring (1960), Viridiana (1961), The Wages Of Fear (1953), The White Sheik (1952), Wild Strawberries (1957), Three Documentaries By Saul J. Turell plus the hardcover, full color 240-page book.

Distribution Criterion / Janus Collection - Region 0 - NTSC




 

Hit Counter

 

DONATIONS Keep DVDBeaver alive:

Mail cheques, money orders, cash to:    or CLICK PayPal logo to donate!

Gary Tooze

Thank You!