Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Grave of the Fireflies

Grave of the Fireflies 
Studio Ghibli has been notorious for creating mesmerising animated cinema. Spirited Away (2002) really brought Hayao Miyazaki and his studio to the international stage. Yet, within the backlog of fantastic films such as Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989) and Princess Mononoke (1997), Grave of the Fireflies has failed to attract the same attention. Directed by Isao Takahata, the film tells the tragic story of Setsuko and her older brother Seita as they try to survive in a Japan that has been devastated by World War II. Their father is fighting in the war, and their mother has been killed by the American bombing raids. The two subsequently move to a distant aunt’s residence, but struggle to escape their descent into poverty and vagrancy. Takahata’s film really emphasises the impact of war on the innocent and on the human condition. The aunt’s initially kind welcome to Setsuko and Seita, changes into cold-hearted dismissal as she tries to fight for her own survival. 
Grave of the Fireflies is not only a beautifully crafted and tear-inducing piece of animated cinema, but is also one that carries a strong anti-war message. The animation and music is stellar. However, it is the film’s ability to balance the serious subject matter with ‘feel-good’ drama which is powerfully evocative and truly remarkable. With the majority of Studio Ghibli’s films focusing on the imaginary and cute, Isao Takahata has been brave in his realistic and tragic portrayal of war through the medium of animation. It is an honest, unforgettable masterpiece, which ‘tugs at the heart strings’. 

9/10 

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