Grave of the Fireflies

This week’s film is more appropriate for older viewers. It’s also one of the saddest films ever made, so be sure to have the Kleenex nearby.

It’s 1945, and the Japanese city of Kobe is continuously being bombed as World War II enters its final months. During one attack, 12 year old Seita and his 4 year old sister lose their home and their mother, and are taken in by their aunt.

But their aunt resents their presence. She sees them as burdens and constantly berates them. So Seita decides to care for his sister on his own, moving into an abandoned bomb shelter and dedicating his energy to keeping his sister in good spirits. Life seems better without their aunt’s constant insults, but the harsh reality of the situation confronts them as food dwindles, malnutrition sets in, and the kindness of strangers eludes them.

Grave of the Fireflies is not like most films in that its characters do not learn some moral lesson or triumph over some plot obstacle. Rather it’s we viewers who, confronted by this difficult tale, are invited to examine our own priorities. What might we do if we found ourselves in such a situation? How might we deal with such stresses, uncertainties, and limitations? How might we treat others?

The film is unrated, but would likely be PG-13, as the intense nature of its drama along with some violent and frightening wartime imagery make this one more appropriate for older viewers.

Runtime: 1 hour, 29 minutes
Rated PG-13
100% on Rotten Tomatoes
IMDb Parents Guide
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