Why must fireflies die so young? – By @martamorientes

By Marta Morientes


Why must fireflies die so young?

That’s one of the epic sentences from the film ‘Grave of the Fireflies’ by the Japanese renowned animator Isao Takahata. This film tells the story of two orphans and their desperate struggle to survive the final months of World War Two. 

He took inspiration from a storytelling archetype familiar in Japanese culture: that of doomed lovers who take their own lives at the start of the narrative, with the rest of the story taking place in flashback. In this case, it’s not a romance story; it’s the love of siblings between Seita and Setsuko that keeps asking the viewer what war truly means.

The story is told with hand-drawn images, so it’s distanced somewhat from the realistic images of the war (maybe that’s why I didn’t cry as much as I thought). However, if the film had been a live-action film, its heartbreak would have been too much to bear. 

The film is also full of details that they would have not been credible in a live-action film. Those details and the way of telling the story is very powerful due to Isao Takahata’s first-hand experiences, having himself survived a devastating air raid on his hometown of Okayama.

So, as you can imagine, this film is massively depressing. 

It is probably the film with the saddest plot I’ve ever watched (but crying is good for lungs, it’s fine; I encourage everybody to see it).

Then, why did I chose this film?

This film was completely out of my comfort zone of films. Although it is supposed to be a masterpiece from 1988, there are a couple of reasons why I would unlikely see this film. 

In fact, three reasons because I didn’t know the film existed until today. That’s the first one. 

Well, knowing that it exists; the second reason is that it’s a drama, A SINISTER DRAMA. A drama about the Second World War. I can’t say I don’t like dramas but I don’t usually choose to watch them unless the film is really good or I am in the mood of wanting to see drama films. Unlikely.

And the last and main reason is that I have never seen an animated feature Japanese film. God forgives me. Anime is a field I know nothing about. Everything I know about it it’s what I’ve been told by friends. I’ve never had the initiative of learning about this field by myself. Terrible. 

The good thing is that I’ve learned that ’Grave of the Fireflies’ is the darkest film from Studio Ghibli, one of the most influential animation houses in the world. The studio became internationally known for such films as My Neighbor Totoro (1988), Princess Mononoke (1997) and Spirited Away (2001). Films that I’ve heard for the first time now, God forgives me again, but I’ve added on my list to watch. 

To sum up, what I‘ve liked most about watching ‘Grave of the Fireflies’ is a great example of the way of communicating in a tragically beautiful way. 

And the fireflies life cycle is short.

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