Photograph courtesy La Biennale di Venezia
Venice 71: Film Festival – Nobi (Fires on the Plain) by Shinya Tsukamoto. The violent anti-war film directed Shinya Tsukamoto, also stars Yusaku Mori, Yuko Nakamura, Tatsuya Nakamura and Lily Franky. It is towards the end of World War II. After invading an island in the Philippines, Japanese servicemen meet fierce counter-offensive from the locals and the allied forces. It’s just a matter of time before the few survivors are wiped out. Suffering from tuberculosis private Tamura is abandoned by both his platoon and the mobile hospital. A group of soldiers with untreatable sicknesses and injuries are outside the hospital, just waiting to die. Private Tamura joins them but that night, artillery fire destroys the hospital. Tamura escapes injury and roams into the jungle. He throws himself into the overwhelming force of nature expecting that his end is near. Unable to go on anymore he takes out his grenade ready to kill himself when he notices some yams growing in the wild. The only problem is that the yams are inedible unless they’re cooked. Tamura goes to a village in search of matches. But there’s nothing there as the villagers have fled. Tamura takes a nap in a church when a young couple turns up. The woman screams in horror when she sees Tamura so he pulls the trigger of his rifle to silence her. She’s the first person he’s ever murdered. Tamura roams the jungle which is now hell on earth, with piles of bodies everywhere. Extreme fatigue numbs his mind and hunger changes him. When he starts to view his companions as food, he crosses a threshold into a realm where there are no friends, enemies or God.
photograph ASAC - courtesy La Biennale di Venezia
Nobi (Fires on the Plain). The director, Shinya Tsukamoto states “I’ve been making movies about humans trapped in the city. With this film I want to show modern city dwellers that the city is not the world. That it’s just a rudderless boat floating in the sea of nature. By showing people engaged in the foolishness of war, I wanted to ask why we opt to go to war. If fighting is our primal instinct, I wanted to investigate if intelligence had a role to play in it. I don’t believe in propaganda movies. So what you take away from my film is up to you. I can sense the seventy-year-old horror and screams of those who decayed in the jungle. I pick it up on a radar that’s directly connected to my spine and I injected those sensations into every frame. If you smelled any of that, I succeeded.”
Above. Shinya Tsukamoto with Alberto Barbera director of the Venice71 Film Festival.