Grave of the Fireflies

Grave of the Fireflies ★★★★★

”Why must fireflies die so young?”

And now I have a lump in my throat. I think human being’s heart is not made to sustain this much pain, emotional pressure, tension and sorrow. Isao Takahata’s Grave of the Fireflies is one of the saddest and most disheartening war movies ever, its portrayal of terror, misery and ugliness of war is so demoralizing and so upsetting that in the end the viewers will be devastated, dispirited and shocked, a powerful and dazzling piece of art which is more than anything a celebration of life, love, beauty and sacrifice and a condemnation of war, greed, selfishness and cruelty. Like any other farsighted and timeless work of art it is not only about people of a certain time and place, its themes are universal and it can be seen as a film about all individuals who have suffered from the horrors of war, it doesn't matter when or where, war is hell.

Although for most of its 90 minute run time Grave of the Fireflies is focusing on the sufferings of its protagonists but there are some scarce moments filled with joy, life and happiness. This attitude which highlights the beauties of life even in the most horrible circumstances prevents the film from being a simple, boring and emotionally manipulative film which only focuses on mishaps of two human beings, in some moments Isao Takahata’s approach toward his characters and their interests becomes poetic. The scene with the fireflies in the cave is perhaps is one of the most beautiful and at the same time one of the unsettling moments of the film: We see Stsuko and Seita appreciating the beauty of fireflies and at the same time we are saddened by the fact that this beauty and their enthusiasm can’t resist the brutality of war.

One thing that helps the film to be so powerful is its narrative, in the opening moments of the film we are told about the end and then the director shows us what is going to happen to our protagonists, so from then on it’s not a matter of surprise or twist or adrenaline, it becomes a sad and desperate tale of survival, we see our protagonists moving toward their destiny step by step and as the story goes ahead things become darker and darker, we lose hope just like Setsuko and Seita, this confident and masterful narrative makes the overall experience gloomier and more powerful.

Grave of the Fireflies is a depressing masterpiece, its honesty and uncompromising approach make it a tough watch, it possesses a somewhat divine power and portrays a horrifying picture from war which is almost impossible to forget, its characters will stay with the viewer and its moving story can’t be forgotten. An everlasting piece of cinema

P. S: In the next couple of days I’ll feel guilty whenever I’ll have a proper meal.

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