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FREE FOR MEMBERS: Grave of the Fireflies


Year: 1988 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 (XWide) 
Certificate: BBFC 12A Cert – Under 12s admitted only with an adult 
Subtitles: It is expected that this film is fully subtitled. 
Directed by Isao Takahata 
Starring: Ayano Shiraishi, Tsutoma Tsatumi  
An image from FREE FOR MEMBERS: Grave of the Fireflies

A unique and haunting experience from Studio Ghibli, Grave of the Fireflies has all the same creative talent and beauty you'd expect from the makers of Spirited Away and Howl's Moving Castle. However, in a rare exception for Studio Ghibli, this film is set in reality, rather than a world of fantasy.

In Japan in the early days of World War II, teenager Seita and his 4 year old sister Setsuko are sent to live with their aunt after their mother dies. They help around the house and even sell the few belongings their mother left, but are made to feel a burden on the household; especially when rice rations keep being cut and they are too young to work. Instead they choose to head off on their own and find refuge in an abandoned bomb shelter.

Those more familiar with Studio Ghibli's work will probably find this film their most harrowing. Seita and Setsuko have a never-ending battle against starvation, and have to scavenge, steal and loot just to survive; never mind the bombs being dropped. As you would expect, these are juxtaposed with some stunning animated scenes; though these only serve to make such hardship and suffering even more poignant.

An amazing piece of cinematic history that no one can walk away from unmoved.

Natalie Tyldesley-Marshall

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Screenings of this film:

2014/2015 Spring Term (digital)
2023/2024 Autumn Term (digital)