Grave of the Fireflies ★★

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

39/100

Calling this an anti-war movie is absurd. In theory, it's an anti-idiocy movie, but Takahata bungles even that, turning both kids into martyrs for whom our hearts are meant to bleed. Multiple sources report that the author of the source novel wrote it to apologize for, in effect, having killed his little sister, and that would have been a genuinely heartbreaking tale; of the many ways in which this movie achieves precisely the opposite effect, the most egregious is informing us—at the outset, significantly—that Seita (unlike the author, needless to say) starved to death as well, shortly thereafter, relieving him of the lifetime of guilt that inspired the novel in the first place. But there's barely any suggestion at all that Seita's actions are unconscionable—that he essentially kills himself and Setsuko simply because he doesn't like being nagged. The opening firebombing (superbly realized as a stand-alone setpiece; as ever, the animation throughout is gorgeous) establishes a woe-is-me tone in which the kids just seem like extremely belated casualties, akin to the victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki who died months or years later of radiation poisoning rather than instantly in the blast or immediately in the fires. The whole film is just completely wrongheaded, and as far as I can tell nobody seems to notice, so knee-jerk is the general response to depictions of suffering. Kind of a travesty, really.

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