Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Grave of the Fireflies (1988)

TOP 100 FILMS: #21

After the death of their mother during an air raid, and the continuing departure of their soldier father, overly proud Seita must face the harsh conditions of war-time Japan, trying to protect his younger sister.

"Why must fireflies die so young?"

There are a handful of films in this world I would mention among those I would never seek out the opportunity to watch twice. Not because they lack in quality, but rather because they are an emotional struggle unlike any other. Grave of the Fireflies is not a movie about the adventures of two children struggling to survive. Rather, in the first few minutes it tells you, it's about the slow, painful, lonely, events that would define their legacy.

Events so ridden with stupidity on the characters' behalf. So riddled with stupidity on the government's behalf. So riddled with stupidity on war's behalf. It becomes impossible to keep your eyes off the screen. For it is slow. It is agonizingly painful. And every step of the way it will grab at the very heart of your emotional strings. Taking them, holding them dear, and not letting go until well after the credits have gone.

As perfect a measurement of quality as any I can imagine. Grave of the Fireflies is an animated film that reaches beyond its narrative method, and into the realm of human exploration. Why can it do this? Because it's real. Stories like this, experienced even by the novelist themselves, have filled the pages of Japanese History. The sort of stories nobody wants to hear, but everyone should. A cost of war unseen in big battles, and groundbreaking effects. The cost of war for those who have nothing to do with it.

In that respect I hold Grave of the Fireflies in the highest of regard. The sort of movie I recommend everyone see once. If for no other reason than the sheer magnitude of its power. The sort of movie I recommend everyone avoid. If for no other reason than the depth of emotion it requires. Perhaps the most pure, and powerful, example of what anime possesses the capability to be.

An anime so exceptional it could very well be labeled the greatest of its genre. If not one of the greatest films ever made. A beautiful, emotional, heartfelt look at the cost of war on those at home.

5 better thoughts:

The Film Connoisseur said...

I loved this movie as well. ITs one of the few animes that actually moved me on an emotional level. Also, the animation is top notch, but what stands out the most are the characters, they feel like real people, they come alive on screen even though they are animated, which speaks volumes of the technique that went into the production of this film. I mean, they really wanted to convey emotion and personality through these characters, and they achived it in my book. Agreed: one of the best animes ever made.

Castor said...

An incredibly beautiful yet heart-wrenching movie and definitely up there as one of the very best animation ever made. This movie feels so real and it could not have been better acted by real life performers.

CMrok93 said...

Think that anime always involves ridiculous plots with lots of supernatural foolishness? Think again.

Univarn said...

@FilmConnoisseur Thanks for the comment. I really love how they made it so real, but still utilized some of the anime medium to do things they couldn't do otherwise.

@Castor They did do a live action version some years ago, but I dare not check it out.

@CMrok93 Oh definitely. I love fantasy anime, but there's a lot of heart and realism there as well.

Heather said...

It is one of my favorite films of all time, and one of the best examples of how war affects a world from the perspective of it's people. I just got through watching Empire Of The Sun after years and years of having not seen it. Seeing that kind of horror from the eyes of children is utterly heartbreaking.

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