Friday, July 27, 2018

Grave of the Fireflies (火垂るの墓) in Pittsburgh, August 12, 13, and 15.

The 1988 Studio Ghibli film Grave of the Fireflies (火垂るの墓) will play in the Pittsburgh area on August 12, 13, and 15 as part of this year's GKIDS Ghibli Fest. Afour-star Roger Ebert review calls the film "an emotional experience so powerful that it forces a rethinking of animation."
In the waning days of World War II, American bombers drop napalm canisters on Japanese cities, creating fire storms. These bombs, longer than a tin can but about as big around, fall to earth trailing cloth tails that flutter behind them; they are almost a beautiful sight. After they hit, there is a moment’s silence, and then they detonate, spraying their surroundings with flames. In a Japanese residential neighborhood, made of flimsy wood and paper houses, there is no way to fight the fires.

“Grave of the Fireflies” (1988) is an animated film telling the story of two children from the port city of Kobe, made homeless by the bombs. Seita is a young teenager, and his sister Setsuko is about 5. Their father is serving in the Japanese navy, and their mother is a bomb victim; Seita kneels beside her body, covered with burns, in an emergency hospital. Their home, neighbors, schools are all gone. For a time an aunt takes them in, but she’s cruel about the need to feed them, and eventually Seita finds a hillside cave where they can live. He does what he can to find food, and to answer Setsuko’s questions about their parents. The first shot of the film shows Seita dead in a subway station, and so we can guess Setsuko’s fate; we are accompanied through flashbacks by the boy’s spirit.
The film will play at the Cinemark theaters in Monaca, Monroeville, Pittsburgh Mills, and Robinson. The August 12 and 15 screenings are dubbed in English, while the August 13 screening is in Japanese with English subtitles.