You would not believe your eyes
If ten million fireflies
Lit up the world as I fell asleep
Cause they fill the open air
And leave teardrops everywhere
You'd think me rude, but I
Would just stand and stare.
I'd like to make myself believe
That planet Earth turns slowly.
It's hard to say that I'd
Rather stay awake when I'm asleep,
Cause everything is never as it seems.
Cause I'd get a thousand hugs
From ten thousand lightening bugs
As they tried to teach me how to dance.
The best movie you'll never want to see again
At the end of the movie, there was silence, absolute and total silence in the theater - and then, only an occasional sniffle until the end credits had finished rolling and the house lights came up. It would've seemed almost disrespectful to profane the silence with words.
Seeing a movie like this really changes attitudes about war - about who really suffers, and that the honor and glory is shallow comfort when you contemplate what has been lost in the struggle.
I've made the comment to my friends that if you ever see someone who isn't moved (usually to tears) by this movie, you've found someone without a soul. As difficult as it is to watch, turn off the phone, dim the lights, and immerse yourself in the film with ones you love - you will be a better person for it in the end.
The story is based on a bestselling novel by Akiyuki Nosaka. A survivor of the firebombing of Kobe in World War II, Nosaka battled starvation and actually lost his younger sister to malnutrition. Haunted for years by the experience, driven by the guilt of his sister's death, he wrote the book in hopes of silencing the ghosts surrounding him.
Even now, several years and several vewings later, its suffering and peacefullness remain a deeply touching experience.
When speaking about this film, Takahata and Nosaka confess that this story is better suited for animation, and they may be right. Perhaps this simply couldn't work with live actors. We would be too self-conscious of the sight of a real 4-year-old suffering; it would either look overly maudlin or hokey. But when animated, we more readily accept what Takahata shows us. It's realistic, but in the sense that Van Gogh and Coltrane is real. With its warm humanity, you feel emotions pulled out of you that you never knew you had.
Fireflies is equally full of moments of serene beauty, scenes of peaceful vitality. Visually, this is a beautiful movie. Everything is drawn in lush, vivid watercolors; the greens and blues of the lake, the saturated reds of a devastated Kobe, even the smoke from the bombers looks poetic. A bucket, a mop, a well - the film is littered with these snapshots of daily details.
If you haven’t seen it you owe it to yourself to experience this profound study of war and its effects on the human condition.