Wednesday, October 6, 2010

War Zombies

Fires on the Plain (1959) - Ichikawa
Tamura is in limbo. He has TB but neither the makeshift hospital nor his infantry unit wants to have him back. They are simply out of resources and have too many mouths to feed. Setting is the Pacific theatre in the Philippines, 1945. Tamura wanders on, witnessing misery upon misery of the Japanese soldiers, far removed from honor, dignity and machismo- often portrayed in war films.

There are smoke rising here and there in the distance. Demoralized ragtag of Japanese foot soldiers are never sure whether they are from the native farmers or the yanks. They are famished and starting to die left and right. Then they turn on each other.

With the beautiful, stark black and white photography, Kon Ichikawa succeeds in making a classic zombie movie: ghosts of the war wandering around in rainy, foggy purgatory looking for their salvation in tiny inconsequential things like a bonfire in the field. A powerful film.