Grave of the Fireflies (1988)
Director: Isao Takahata
Cast: Tsutomu Tatsumi, Ayano Shiraishi, Yoshiko Shinohara
Plot: A tragic film covering a young boy and his little sister's struggle to survive in Japan during World War II.
Genre: Animation / Drama / War
IN RETROSPECT (Spoilers: NO)
There are certain kinds of films that when the end credits roll, viewers are most likely to engage in some form of discussion (silly or intellectual whatsoever). But there are other kinds of films that any word spoken, when the film concludes, is akin to committing a crime.
Grave of the Fireflies belongs to the latter. This film deserves the highest respect from all viewers, and any word that breaches the silence during and after the film would be a cardinal sin. This is a very serious work of animation by Isao Takahata (a close colleague of the legendary Hayao Miyazaki).
The film documents the lives of two Japanese children in tragic detail. Both are physically, and emotionally torn apart by the American bombings of Japanese cities in WWII. In the film, we observe the loss of childhood innocence, the loss of integrity of fellow Japanese citizens, but also witness the remarkable will of the human spirit to survive in extraordinary circumstances.
The animation created is like a piece of fine art, almost like a collage of watercolor paintings. The most notable aspect is how the lead characters are able to elude their personalities so vividly, that any viewer would be able to connect with them at the deepest emotional level.
This is arguably the best animated work I've seen in my life (other than Miyazaki's Spirited Away). In fact, Grave of the Fireflies carries more meaning, and illustrates a story that's able to relate to anyone (not just the Japanese) whom have been ravaged by war, or whom are consumed by the knowledge that war (and the suffering it brings) still exists even till today.
Do not be put off just because it's a Japanese cartoon. It holds tremendous power to reduce a grownup into a sobering mess. Grave of the Fireflies is one of the most deeply affecting motion pictures ever to be produced. I recommend it with utmost sincerity.
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