Chris & Marcey’s February Movie Exchange: Week 4 – Grave Of The Fireflies (1988)

Movie Exchange

What’s a Blog-a-thon? This movie exchange is a challenge, its participants have chosen films the other has not seen to watch and review.
Chris’ criteria for Marcey: Japanese Anime of the 1980’s
Why Chris Chose This Film For Marcey: The final film that I have chosen for Marcey to review this month is Isao Takahata’s 1988 masterpiece, Grave of the Fireflies. I first saw the film after buying it on DVD back in 2011 and it broke my heart, it is quite possibly one of the greatest films I have ever seen and the best film to come out of Studio Ghibli. I’ve always seen this film as a companion piece to Spielberg’s 1987 masterpiece, Empire of the Sun mostly because it is a story of a loss of childhood because of the events during the second world war. The film beautifully depicts the lives of Seita and his four year old sister Setsuko trying to survive during the US bombing of Japan and remains one of the few films that have depicted the war in the pacific from the Japanese point of view. I saved this film for last because it is very special to me and it is a film that I believe that everyone should see. Enjoy.


Marcey’s Review
Thanks Chris, thanks for giving me this film to watch, not only is it a pure masterpiece of cinema, but it is one of the most emotional experiences one can have watching a film, my heart may never be the same again. I have heard a little about Grave Of The Fireflies, but nothing could actually prepare me for this experience. Again really only with Eastern cinema will you see a film like this, an animated film. They really have been the leaders in the field for a very long time, not only is this a beautiful film to look at, the animation is fantastic, but it does pack quite the punch.

During the final months of WWII, the film takes place in Japan and it is seen from that point of view (something you don’t see very often depicted in cinema), as two young kids Seita the older brother and Setsuko the younger sister struggle to survive after their village was air bombed. All they have is what they escaped their home with, and their mother suffered fatal injuries whilst escaping. They travel to live with a distant aunt, who treats them very poorly, and they are very much needing to survive on their own.

From the get go, you know this is a film that is not going to have a happy ending. It begins where the story ends and then takes you back to how it got that way. Through the eyes of these two innocent kids, you really get to see the toll taken with war on the civilians. The air raids that the US unleashed was extremely brutal, as was the entire war with every country that was affected. Generally with a war film you see the soldiers in battle, but often the civilian effect isn’t shown as much. As with Chris I would compare this to Empire Of The Sun, that film as well shows the civilian effect of war, and it focuses on a child caught up in the conflict.


The two kids have to deal with having no home, no family, no food, no water, they are on their own. During this portion of the war in Japan, food was scarce, and people had to sell their belongings to buy rice and other food. Things were very dire for a lot of people, and this really shows an extreme because they are kids with no one else. Their father is never seen because he went out to serve in the war, and we can only assume he did not make it. These two really only have each other and that sadly isn’t enough when you need basic nourishment to survive. It accurately displays how they go from having a little, to having nothing, and when they have something it just might be too late.

This isn’t the kind of film one would want to watch too often, in fact I would struggle to watch it again because of how emotional it is from start to finish. It isn’t a film that goes the way you really want it to go, that is the reality of war and it does have those very dire and no win situations for a lot of people. It is a very eye opening experience, how can anyone in their right mind want to bomb anyone? Sadly this is the reality we live in, and not much has changed in the grand scheme of things. Civilians are still suffering from the many wars being raged, and no one deserves to suffer.

Without a doubt Grave Of The Fireflies is one of the best films I have ever seen, and perhaps too one of the most depressing. It is an extremely important film, that everyone should see at least once in their lifetime (along with Empire Of The Sun). It tells a very important story, it has two amazing characters that will definitely stay with me for a very long time, and this is an experience I wont soon forget.


You can purchase Grave Of The Fireflies through Madman –

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