The coverage of the devastation in Japan from the recent earthquakes and tsunami and fears over radiation from its damaged nuclear reactors reminded me of a wonderful film with a heartbreaking story, Isao Takahata’s “Grave of the Fireflies.”
The film depicts the worst of human nature and behavior. Two children are left to fend for themselves at the end of World War II when their mother dies after a bombing raid; their father, an officer in the Japanese military, is away at war and may have died already.
Neither family nor neighbors nor the law help the children. Their aunt takes their rice and their mother’s expensive kimonos, allows them little to eat, and abuses them. The boy’s little sister becomes terribly sick, either from malnutrition, radiation sickness, or both. A doctor tells the boy she must have food, but neither he nor anyone else offers any food or any help. Neighbors refuse to share. Law enforcement authorities not only provide no assistance but threaten to punish the boy for stealing food.
Watch this beautiful, unutterably sad film, and be sure to have a supply of clean handkerchiefs by your side.