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Friday, August 12, 2011

Grave of the fireflies

I'll be brief since I have so little to write about this masterpiece of a film. Directed by Studio Ghibli this 1988 film is the tale of two orphans attempting to live in World War II Germany. Lot's of laughs. But mainly tears, so many tears. It is one of the strongest anti-war films out there, but also a warning tale about pride and learning to accept your mistakes, a fact which is often missed by critics who just see the admittedly powerful imagery directed against the pointless war.

The key point about the film is the little moments that it shows, the happy relationship the two children share, even if it is in the brief interludes of incredible depression. One of the most telling and for me touching moments of the film is when the little girl asks for her favorite candy, and is crying when she thinks there are none left. Then the big brother looks deep inside the can and finds a few pieces and some scraps, the little girl looks very carefully at what is left, and eats the scraps putting away the rest. This incredibly poignant scene is one of many, and just seeks to show how masterful Ghibli can be when it is in its element.

This is not a happy film though, it is an incredibly depressing film where in the end there is no happy ending. They both die, this is stated in the first minute of the film. The buildup to it though, even though you know the end result is what makes it so sad. I personally felt so much anger at the characters because many of the events could have been prevented, but where not because of basic human flaws. The tale makes much more sense and becomes much sadder when you here that it was based off a real account from a man who grew up in the period and blames himself for his sister's death.

This is an amazing film though, and I think everyone should watch it at least once, even if you don't believe that cartoons can be made for adults, maybe this film will change your mind, and will almost certainly change your heart, if only for a little while.

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