Grave of the Fireflies. What a movie. You did it again, Ghibli.
For those of you who haven’t watched it, please do. Especially if you think war is, in any way, heroic, beautiful, or the panacea to a nation.
It basically tells the story of a boy and his younger sister’s struggle to survive in a time of war and post-war back in the 1940s in Kobe, Japan.
The movie got me choking with anger and sadness. I always hated war movies, even the “humanist” ones. Like this, in fact. but, wow, what a movie.
I was angry at the bombers, at the adults in the movie, and yes, with Seita, the brother, for making insensible decisions-although of course, he WAS barely a teenager- such as taking such a long time to withdraw the money from the bank.
My favorite scene is the final one, when they both look down at a modern-day Kobe. How easily does a city, a nation, a world, forget what had once happened on those hills! Or they might not even care at all in the first place. Perhaps everything, every happenings, every lives, are indeed like fireflies in the long run. flickering for one night then dying the next day, and the world might not be able to tell the difference between one flicker and the other.
Yet each is beautiful, and so is the story behind it. Which is why the story of the brother and sister (based partly on a semi-biography by Akiyuki Nosaka, by the way) needs to flicker perhaps a little longer as a reminder of the consequences of war.
Another exceptionally memorable scene is when Setsuko, the sister, was digging the grave for the fireflies.
By the way, it is strange how fireflies are also part of a sad folk tale from Batak about a brother and sister. I guess they simply represent warmth and melancholy simultaneously.