I was told that Grave of the Fireflies is a depressing film, and for an animated feature, it lives up to its reputation. It tells the story of two siblings, Seito and Seisuke, during the last months of World War II, and their struggle to survive. Since the film is told as a flashback of sort, the audience is already informed that the characters have died, and that we see how they lived their last months.
From one misfortune to another, Seito has to bear most of the weight since he is the eldest, but it is with Seisuke that the heart of the film lies. Despite the fears of getting bombed and living away from home, both siblings can still find joy in their lives. However, it doesn't mean that the film shies away from the hardships, all the way until the end. This was all done with beautiful animation mixed with a soundtrack that really sets the mood of the film.
Privilege is somehow tackled, but in a short and powerful way. This is what struck me the most about the film. Everyone knows that war is filled with hardships and sacrifice, but there are people that can get away from it scot-free. When some women returned to their hometown after the Japanese have surrendered, they have squealed that everything was still the same - and the audience knows it wasn't. The film explores the humanistic side of war, the stories of people who aren't in the front lines but are experiencing the effects. It makes me grateful that I am not in their situation, but mindful that others are, and no one should be living under those circumstances.
This is one of Studio Ghibli's early works, and their most depressing one to date. This is also Isao Takahata's most profiled work and the first of his Ghibli works I've seen. It is a moving and heartbreaking piece, and I am inclined to check out the other works of the director. This film however is a one-time viewing for me; I don't think I can relive watching their ordeal again.
This is my August Blind Spot Series pick. Click the banner for the rest of my entries.