Hey everyone, we’re back with another entry in the Reader Recommendations series!
The Reader Recommendation series is intended to help me formally pursue all the great films that commenters bring up each week in discussion which I’ve never seen. If there’s a movie that comes up that I haven’t seen, but you think I should, just get in touch with me @ firstname.lastname@example.org
or let me know in the comments that you’d like to participate.
This time up, our recommendation comes from Eric, over at The Warning Sign
. He’s suggested the Studio Ghibli film “Grave of the Fireflies” in order to further my anime education.
Click through to read a little more about why he felt it was worthy of recommending, followed by my thoughts on the film!
My questions in bold. Eric′s answers below.
1) Do you remember when you first saw the movie?
I saw it at the end of last year as part of my 50 Movies Project. It was one of the select few films that I gave a 10/10 to, and I ended up ranking it third out of the entire project.
2) Why do you think that it’s recommendable? What do you like about it?
Well, it’s not an easy watch by any means. It’s a very tragic tale, one made even moreso because it is based on a true story. However, it is the greatest animated film I have ever seen, and it moved me in ways that few ever have. Just make sure you keep a box of tissues at hand.
3) Is the movie underappreciated, do you think? Or does pop culture have it fairly rated?
I think more people need to see it, but the praise has been pretty unanimous from those who have. Roger Ebert included it in his Great Movies series, and he mentioned that it is one of the greatest war films ever made. It is also in IMDB’s Top 250, and it holds a 96% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
4) Is there any particular reason you thought I should watch it, or were you just surprised I hadn’t seen it?
I remember you mentioned you hadn’t seen many (or was it any?) Studio Ghibli films before. This is the best film I have seen from them, and it is one that I am quickest to recommend (despite the devastating subject matter).
5) Have you written about the movie yourself? (Insert plug here! LOL )
Big thanks, Eric. My Review Below!
A Japanese boy and his young sister lose their mother when their village is bombed during World War II, what follows is a very simple story… they suffer the tolls of war. The two not only deal with the loss of their mother, but with a lack of food and shelter after they leave the care of an inhospitable aunt who initially takes them in.
This may be an animated movie, but it’s certainly not a children’s film. It features burnt corpses and smoking ruins. Air raid sirens sound and bombs follow after. Further, we are not spared the suffering that the two encounter in the aftermath of the bombing… not a single bit.
Initially, I thought the film might be focusing on the fact that there’s beauty even amidst destruction as the children play and chase fireflies even after their village is decimated. The two children are still children, in spite of the tragic circumstances around them. They laugh and splash at the beach and eat candy. Eventually though, their high spirits are worn down by the hardships and desolation brought on by war, and the film reveals itself to be about the costs that the innocent must bear.
Setsuko, the 5-year old, is very realistic. Her simplistic understanding, open emotions and limited coordination combine to create a very believable little girl. Seita, the brother, does his best to keep her spirits high in spite of being young himself. In War-time, you’re forced to grow up quickly, and Seita finds himself forced to face the world in many ways. It’s easy to believe in both of these characters, and to feel for them as they endure their suffering.
With dialogue that feels minimal at times, gorgeous illustration, emotive music, and of course the weighty subject matter, “Grave of the Fireflies” is a powerful film. Much like “Waltz with Bashir”, “Grave” seriously handles a mature topic, which is something that fans of Western animation aren’t entirely accustomed to. The quality of the film is undeniable, but in all honesty, the harrowing subject matter makes me suspect it’s a film I won’t be quick to revisit again. Much like “The Pianist”, say, or “Hotel Rwanda”, the pain and toll of war are on much too great a display to look directly at, voluntarily, often. It’s certainly a great film, but I think unlike Eric, I would be more cautious about recommending it, as it certainly IS a devastating film.