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Grave of the Fireflies

The Real Face of War

Ernest Hemmingway once said, "Never think that war, no matter how necessary,nor how justified, is not a crime." While many may dispute that axiom, others... many others can find truth in those words. However, many of us have an ideologized idea of war, that we must bomb Country X because they are Enemy B, or that war is bad because violence doesn't solve things. While they maybe true facts, they are nothing but hollow words, said by people who have never been in the battefield or lived in a war zone. We say these things in a safe environment, trying to be politically correct or moral. We say all this, and go to bed without wondering if we will survive the next day. We think we know war, but in reality, we don't.

Grave of the Fireflies depicts a different outlook on war that is hard to find in modern media. Instead of the heroic war movies that glorify war and the reassuring defeat of the 'enemy', it portrays a more personal and direct perspective of war, from the smallest and weakest of the population: children. Meet Seita, age 14, and his little sister Setsuko, age 4, they have managed to survive the Kobe firebombings that occured close to the end of World War II. Unfortunately during the firebombings, they also managed to lose their mother. With their father away currently serving in the Navy, Seita and Setsuko seek their distant aunt who lives in the country. As rations begin to dwindle, so does their aunt's generosity and kindness. Rather than dealing with their aunt's abuse and resentful nature, Seita decides to move out of her house with Setsuko to an old abandoned bomb shelter. Thus begins their struggle for survival in a war torn country. In a sense, the children are fighting their own war, they have no distinct enemy. Instead, they have a multitude of enemies, such as malnutrition, hunger, depression, and poverty. They have no weapons, only each other to depend on. This is the true face of war.

Grave of the Fireflies is not a light hearted movie and it isn't a childish and innocent depiction of war. With detailed animation and dramatic plot, this is one of the very few films that is worthy of the title of 'Masterpiece'. It is a movie that makes one think for hours, days, maybe even weeks, after one watches it, and comes to the conclusion, that yes, war is a crime.

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