Vox Nova At the Movies: Grave of the Fireflies

Vox Nova At the Movies: Grave of the Fireflies June 25, 2007

Movies have played an important role in society ever since “The Sneeze” became an overnight success. While some people might choose to ignore them, and not watch any movies in their own free time, for the most part, we live in a society which is in love with motion pictures, and we find ourselves increasingly influenced by them.

Some movies are worthy of praise. They often bring out the best in us, or they challenge the adequacy of long-held opinions when presented in a meaningful story. Some people are easily manipulated by the director, and easily swayed by a movie; others are very critical about what they watch, and might never watch a film if they know in advance it poses a challenge to their beliefs.

It is my hope we at Vox Nova can slowly address many important social issues as they are presented on film. A few posts have already been posted upon this theme, but I think it will be important to keep them all together with a common label (Movies).

Not all the movies will need to be from a Catholic perspective; however, they need to be ones which can raise the same questions that Catholics are called to explore, and to help provide some sort of perspective in dealing with those questions. Indeed, they should challenge commonly held presumptions, and perhaps show the ramifications of a social problem in a way not normally explored.

As my first post in this series, I offer a very unusual tragedy, with some rather disturbing ramifications: Grave of the Fireflies. As you watch the trailer for the film (below) you will note: it’s an animated film. Don’t let that fool you. It is a very serious look at war, exploring the kinds of effects a prolonged war effort can have upon society. Civilians, normally good, upright members of the community, can become self-seeking and barbaric in their treatment of others; children can find their own distant relations treating them with contempt. Yet in the horror of war, the nobility of humanity can also be found, as witnessed by the loving bond between a brother and sister as they try to survive war-torn Japan.

While Grave of the Fireflies is fiction, it is based upon the real-life experiences of its author. It is one of the best films about war, as Roger Ebert says in his own review of it. What makes it so good is its simplicity in story-telling. It allows the beauty of innocence and love to shine forth, even in the midst of great tragedy and horror.

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