Reviews: Grave Of The Fireflies

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Grave of the Idiot Plot
If other people tell you about this movie, they may tell you that it's a stirring war-tale that shows the horror of war in a way films rarely do, and in the process, brings tears to their eyes. Part of this is true. The first half does indeed show the horrors of war, and is an interesting first half of a film. But as for the second half of the film, I originally said it 'fumbled the ball.' This is not the case. Instead, it presented exactly what the director wanted to present ,to the point where I couldn't bring myself to shed a single tear.

Instead, I was metaphorically banging my head due to the Idiot Ball on the part of the protagonist that makes up the second half of the movie. If the kid had just gone back to his aunt and apologized, (as virtually every other single character told him to do,) both he and his sister would still be alive. I understand that the director's idea was to show where pride gets you, as well as to comment on the state of Japanese youngsters at the time the movie was made, but to do so in such a way that presents your protagonist as an idiot is nothing short of manipulative and ham-fisted. Supporting this is the fact that, while this is semi-autobiographical, the protagonist, Seita, dies in the film, but in the actual real events that this story is based on, he survived. That part was the author's fault, but in the novel this film was based upon, the sibling's deaths were still not entirely their own fault, but were also the fault of inevitability, as food supplies were short, and the aunt wouldn't be able to take care of both the siblings and her own children anyway. But the director omitted this, and manipulated a mostly-true story of tragedy and loss in order to convey the folly of pride to Japanese delinquents in order to get across his own personal agenda; that is, to get those youngsters in line. Because of that, all I could do past the half-way point was grit my teeth and mutter, 'Go back to the aunt, go back to the aunt, go back to the aunt...!'

This film had a promising beginning, but didn't follow up on that promise, and presented us with one of the most maddeningly frustrating Idiot Balls and instances of gross manipulation I have ever born witness to. You can alter a true story within reason, but this film warped the facts enough to the point where the true story's essence is lost.
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