Sunday, February 15, 2015

Grave of The Fireflies (Finished)

So here's that review I promised of the 1988 animated film from the legendary Japanese Studio Ghibli.
Grave of the Fireflies is one of the most heartbreaking films I've ever seen, I'm just gonna lay that out there.
Don't go into this movie expecting a lighthearted fantasy story like Kiki's Delivery Service or Ponyo. Yes, studio Ghibli is famous for their family movies. Just a warning, this movie will make even the most stone-hearted of people cry.
The movie is only eighty-nine minutes long, but it was one of the most brutal eighty-nine minutes I've ever experienced.
You see, it's about these two orphans in Japan. Towards the end of World War II, their mother dies in an air-raid and they have to go live with their aunt. Their aunt steals from them and says that they're worthless.
All throughout, you keep expecting their situation to get better, but it doesn't. It just gets worse. And worse.
I've studied a lot into World War II, and if you look into how badly the Japanese treated their POWs, then you've got an idea of how badly they treated their civilians.
So since this is one of the most heartbreaking movies I've ever seen, let's just talk about the technical aspects of it.
Towards the beginning of the movie, the frame-rate was taking a nosedive every now and again, making it look extremely choppy, which is kind of odd since the Dragon Ball anime predates this film by two years and had very smooth animation. You'd think a feature film such as this would have a higher budget than a television series that predates it by two whole years.
Or better yet, fix it for the DVD version the way they remaster pretty much everything these days.
Anyways, I noticed that the lip-sync is sometimes a little off, but it's not too far from what's being said.
You know, at the beginning you know exactly how the movie is going to end. Unfortunately, that doesn't make the ending any less crushingly painful. It's sort of like how I was rewatching Doctor Who: The End of Time earlier in the year. I had already seen it before several months prior, but we were powering through the series to prepare for the 50th Anniversary special. And right at the end, I cried my eyes out.
Even though I knew what was going to happen, even though I hadn't shed a tear the lats time I saw it, when the ending rolled around my heart just burst open and the floodgates came crashing down.
I've seen lots of movies in my lifetime. None of them have ever made me as physically depressed as Grave of the Fireflies has. And yet, it's still an extremely powerful film. The way it ends is so sudden, so sad, and yet somewhat happy. In the end, I'm glad it didn't go on more than an hour and a half. The sheer brutality of the contents of this film manages to make it feel like it's nine hours long, and DEAR GOD is the a horrible, wonderful movie.
Personally, I would rank this right up there with Casablanca and To Kill A Mockingbird in my book. It's one of those films that everyone needs to see at least once, and I can tell you that it's certainly something that I'm going to show my kids someday.
So all in all, it's a terrible film. I had to go read a lighthearted story about a monkey-boy from outer-space travelling the world collecting wish-giving artifacts.
I give it a 10.9* rating. If you have not seen this movie, you need to, I cannot stress this enough.
And now, to follow up a somber review such as this one, next week I'll be reviewing...
I can't believe I'm actually doing this.
Don't worry, I'll have a better review out the week after.