Grave of the Fireflies Screen 6 articles

Grave of the Fireflies

1988

Grave of the Fireflies Poster
  • 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.

  • A number of things make this Japanese Studio Ghibli animation a humanist masterpiece, one of them being its incredible sense of physicality. Any film detailing the horrors of war benefits from a strong sense of the physical, of course, but the strength of this film is that every little detail is given a richly physical rendering.

  • Tombstone for Fireflies is not only animated and suitable for family viewing; it is exquisitely beautiful with its painterly washes of colour and moments of pure lyricism.

  • It comes as little surprise that Isao Takahata's Grave of the Fireflies remains as vital and potent as it was nearly a quarter of a century after its premiere in Japan. This wrenching yet largely unsentimental anime depicts the "collateral damage" of the United States' firebombing of Japan in the waning years of World War II, but its ultimate aim is a universal understanding of the often unreported toll of warfare.

  • Emotionally-draining in a most positive manner, the audience will know the film's outcome but may wish for another alternative in order to ease the plight of hero and heroine. Takahata creates an animation that is more human than many live-action war films.

  • The idea that "War is Hell" has almost become something of a climatic cliché, but Takahata's film explores this well-worn slogan from new, exciting and harrowing angles. It's a strange and brilliant film, particularly in the way it deals with intensely dark subject matter with touches that occasionally verge on the winsome. But the film follows a traditional arc, as exuberance and hope slowly disintegrate and give way to regret, disillusion and, eventually, death.