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Christianity Excised: Ichikawa Kon's Fires on the Plain

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Ichikawa Kon (b. 1915) adapted O¯oka Sho¯hei's (1909-1988) masterful anti-war novel Fires on the Plain for film in 1959. In the process, Ichikawa effected the inevitable simplifications and homogenisations of the story with the consequence that the protagonist, Tamura, was no longer besmirched with the ethical and moral stain of cannibalism. Ichikawa also muted the Christian elements in the story, a decision that has several implications for the narrative, and for understanding the actions of the protagonist in the film. This absence of Christian elements provides the framework for explaining Tamura's motives in refusing to eat human flesh, as well as justification for the shift in rhetorical stance between novel and film. The removal of the Christian sub-plot may also reflect the changing ideological stance of Japan in the post-war world order.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Bucknell University

Publication date: December 1, 2003

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