Grave of the Fireflies

Ever since I began watching Japanese anime films last fall, the movie that basically everyone agreed I needed to watch was Grave of the Fireflies. I finally did, and I never expected that an animated feature could touch me and trouble me to such a degree. In its own right, as far as war flicks go, Grave of the Fireflies just might be as powerful as Steven Spielberg's Schindler's List.

Here's the blurb:

In post-World War II Japan, a janitor finds a deathly ill boy lying beside a metal candy container. The janitor unwittingly tosses the possession into the night, beginning a most unusual tale of survival set amid the atrocities of war in the Animé GRAVE OF FIREFLIES. Brother and sister Seita and Setsuko, ages 14 and 4, flee their disheveled home and deceased parents to make their bid for a new life. Before American troops begin to occupy their country, the children resort to dwelling in an abandoned bomb shelter in the countryside. Though these siblings later get a sense of safety, they realize necessities such as food and water will not be easy to come by.

One has to wonder exactly why director Isao Takahata felt that this film based on the semi-autobiographical novel by author Akiyuki Nosaka should be aimed at children. How anyone could think that teaming up Grave of the Fireflies with Hayao Miyazaki's My Neighbor Totoro as a double feature was a good plan, I'll never know. It defies comprehension. One has to be one of the most magical children's movie ever made, while the other is a sad and disturbing affair. No wonder Grave of the Fireflies turned away most audiences.

Forget whatever you think you know about anime in general. This is a movie that hits you where it hurts. Tragic in every facet of the story, Grave of the Fireflies focuses on the horrible repercussions that war can have on the lives of normal, innocent folks. Graphic without being sensationalist, the movie is a profoundly emotional journey that leaves no one indifferent.

Following Seita and Setsuko's daily struggles will break your heart. It doesn't happen often, but I felt my eyes water on more than one occasion. The heartrending ending -- or the beginning, as the whole movie is one big flashback -- hits you like a punch in the face. And this was supposed to be a children's film???

If any Japanese animated feature deserves the title of "must see" movie, Isao Takahata's Grave of the Fireflies has to be it. Powerful, moving, heartbreaking, this one deserves the highest possible recommendation.

Here's the trailer:

And the beautiful and haunting theme:

For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe

9 commentaires:

Anonymous said...

This was definitely a powerful movie, and pairing it with Totoro is the most horrific thing I can imagine doing to a child.

Definitely not a kids' movie. Good tragedies are hard to find, but this one manages to do it.

Brett said...

It's the only movie that's ever actually made me cry. Very powerful, and very sad.

I think the actual movie to watch after it would be "Spirited Away", since said movie lifts you up from the depressed mood that "Grave of the Fireflies" puts you in.

Anonymous said...

Glad to see you finally got round to watching this Pat.
Also glad to see you recommending that others watch it depsite it not being the easiest film to watch.

I think it is essential viewing if only for the greater understanding it imparts on the viewer about just what horrors innocent people are put through due to war. Any war.

I'd still make a call for people to watch it with the original audio and with subtitles though. Hearing an adult actress try to put on a fake childish voice is too annoying to abide.


Lookf4r said...

Check out Pom Poko too it is another great film by Takahata.

Anonymous said...

I never understood it to have been a double feature. There merely were these two movies at the same time.

Anonymous said...

I never saw a double-feature. I have both as stand-alone. Perhaps adults need to see Totoro after Grave of the Fireflies, to lift the sadness?

Simeon said...

They were originally screened as a double feature because it was thought Grave was too dark and they needed something to balance it.

Vic | UPrinting Coupons said...

Although the movie's theme and story can be depressing but the message is very clear. That in war there are no winners but victims, which most of the time are innocent people.

Anonymous said...

Well this is what America does and did to manyyyy country's!!!! Not just a sad animated movie but this is real and in reality it was worser!!!!