Isao Takahata's Grave of the Fireflies

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Grave of the Fireflies is a Japanese animated film directed by Isao Takahata, which captures the prevalent devastation and tragedies of war. The film tells the story of Seita, 14, and his young sister Setsuko, 4, as they fight for survival in the waning days of World War II. Early in the film, Seita is forced to come to terms with the tragic death of their mother, who died a victim of an enemy fire bomb attack on the port city of Kobe. With their father serving their country as a Japanese veteran and their town turned to rumble, Seita and innocent Setsuko seek refuge with their aunt. Immediately, both the aunt and the children find it challenging to cooperate under the tough circumstances the war has inflicted, such as being forced to cope with food being drastically rationed. Soon, Seita and Setsuko are living in an abandoned hillside shelter where food becomes even harder to find. Both try to live off of stolen vegetables and other food they have scavenged, but to no avail… The film tells a simple story of endurance. It opens with a scene of Seita’s frail and starved body hunched over in a busy underground train station; a voiceover then announces the date of his death. From the beginning, the character’s fate was determined and it was apparent to the film’s viewers. This structure allowed Tatahata to incorporate a ghostly presence of the protagonists, Seita and Setsuko. Throughout the film the ghostly figures appear as the journey of the pair’s battle is prevailed, often before a dramatic turn in the story line. The ghostly figures are accompanied by a hazy pink glow as they watch over the earthly Seita and Setsuko and relive their horrific journey. Without speaking a word, it is evident that Seita still feels the pain and suffering as he reflects on his dark past. The structure of the film also consists of multiple flashbacks, reminiscing fond memories before
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