Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Grave of the Fireflies - DVD Review

Every now and then a film comes along that’s more than just entertainment and escapism for 90mins. Every now and then a film comes along that envelops you so tightly and completely that you simply can’t escape its grip. Grave of the Fireflies is this type of movie. It’s not a happy film. You won’t want to eat popcorn while watching it and I defy you to not start crying. In fact, I would be willing to bet money on this film making the hardest and coldest of hearts melt.

Read on for a full review.

Grave of the Fireflies is not a new movie. In fact, it was released in 1988 and is an adaptation of a semi-autobiographical novel by Akiyuki Nosaka. Knowing this makes the film all the more gut wrenchingly powerful. It’s just taken me a long time to get round to writing this review perhaps because I wasn’t sure I wouldn’t be able to do it justice.

This film had a profound impact on me when I first saw it years ago and I’ve never forgotten it. I was expecting a light & fun anime full of quirky characters and a surreal storyline. But that’s not the experience I had. It was the first film to make me realise the affect of war on ordinary citizens because that’s what this film is about. It’s not about the million dollar explosions. It’s not about the technology or some super-bad kick ass hero who wins the day and gets the girl. This is the story that those films don’t show you. It’s a story about the relationship between two orphaned children, a younger teen Seita and his even younger sister Setsuko. It simply charts the struggles they go through to survive post the Kobe fire bombings in Japan towards the end of World War II. Forget Hurtlocker – this is the ultimate anti-war film ever made. It shows how indifferent people can be to even the needs of desperate children – and this includes their aunt. It is, given that it is based on a semi-autobiography, a damning depiction of the negative consequences of war. This story is probably being experienced right now throughout the world's war zones. And if that isn't a damning indictment on how the world works, then I don't know what is. At the best of times I have a very dim view of society and its sense of false morality and this film, through such a simple and moving portrayal of the experiences of two children, does nothing to make me change my view.

I’m trying really hard not to say too much about the film without giving anything away. All I can say is that if you’re in the ‘right’ frame of mind for an intelligent film that is truly an emotional experience, then this is the film for you.

Treehouse Rating: 5/5

1 comment:

TheUnwashedMass said...

Fantastic film. I've only been able to sit through it once, though. Every other time I just start thinking ahead and think "I don't want to go through that again". Not in a bad way, just "I don't want to be emotionally devastated for the rest of the month". Powerful stuff, and a strong piece of evidence against the "cartoons are for kids" argument.