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Grave of the Fireflies movie review

Many, many years ago I was dating a woman and in one of those "get-to-know-you-better" moments, I asked her What was the worst thing in the world. Her answer surprised me. "War," she said. While it made perfect sense, it was not an answer I expected but as I learned more about her, I found out that her family's life (and her's as a little girl) had been torn apart by a war.

I have never experienced the trauma of war directly but this movie made me think of her words. Hotaru no Haka ("Grave of the Fireflies") is based on the novel by Akiyuki Nosaka and tells the story of two orphaned children in Kobe, Japan during World War II. No war movie is entertaining - think "Black Hawk Down" - but when told through the eyes of children, it is even more painful. The two kids experience hunger and illness, resulting in the death of four-year old Setsuko. Eventually, her brother Seita dies too due to starvation.

While the movie was marketed to children and is recommended for anyone 3 and up, I feel that it should be rated R. It is just a terribly sad and depressing movie and I do not think children need to be exposed to the horrors of war so early on in their lives (I recommend movies like Spirited Away or Kiki's Delivery Service or Shrek or Harry Potter). The movie was not successful at the box office and I can understand why. It literally makes you cry.

The movie also presents the Japanese version of the context of World War II and at some instances it almost seems like propaganda, but if we watch it merely as a movie that tells us how war affects children, this is a very emotional film.

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