Movie: Grave of the Fireflies
My Rating: 5 stars
If this isn’t the saddest movie in the world, I don’t know what is. This animated film will have you openly weeping in public, and you won’t even care who sees you. That’s how much your heart will break after seeing this. Especially if you see this one right after Totoro, another Studio Ghibli film. Because, the kids in the two movies are about the same age. Only, the two sets of siblings meet very different fates.
This movie is grisly and bleak. It starts with the firebombing of Kobe during World War 2, and only goes downhill from there. It’s such an effective anti-war message, showing just what kind of impact it has on human lives. It’s devastating. The bitterness with which, little four-year-old Setsuko cries! You’ll never be the same person again.
I loved this film even though it haunts me. Studio Ghibli really knows how to portray the mannerisms of small children. It’s so beautiful. The script tells the story of fourteen-year-old Seita and his little, four-year-old sister Setsuko. They’re adorable. But, they’re orphaned in the firebombing, and have to struggle to stay alive until the war is over. The Studio always captures the small moments in children’s lives beautifully. That’s why it hurts so badly when we see the kids suffer in this movie. And, they really do live through some very difficult hardships—orphaning, contempt from relatives, starvation. They do have some simple moments of happiness, but they never last very long, because it’s a constant struggle to find food and shelter.
I think it’s really important that you see this movie. It’s a simple story, but a very meaningful one. You will grieve like you’ve never done for a film before. I can still feel tears welling up when I think of these poor children. But, sometimes it’s important to feel sorrow. It makes you feel alive. And, it gives you character. But, this movie isn’t just a chore. It’s is so beautiful too. The artwork is stunning. It practically glows from within.
And, it captures the magic of little, domestic moments, as Seita cares for little Setsuko. The siblings love each other very much. But the movie also puts a human face at the other end of a bomb. We don’t really like to think about the lives that war disrupts, but we should always fully understand the full consequences of our actions. Really, this movie teaches you to value what you have. It’s a classic, and a bitter sweet message that you will remember forever.