Hotaru no Haka (1988, JAP) C-92m. *** D: Isao Takahata. Starring (the voices of) Tsutomu Tatsumi, Ayano Shiraishi, Yoshiko Shinohara, Akemi Yamaguchi. Profoundly touching drama set in a Japanese village close to the end of WW2. During an air raid an adolescent boy and his little sister flee to a shelter. Their mother gets injured severely, and the two children must fend for themselves. Their father being at war, they face the hardest of times, with help from relatives quickly withdrawn. Focuses almost entirely on the fate of its main characters and exposes us to a shattering private tragedy. Beautiful, poetic film that will be difficult to forget. Superb score by Michio Mamiya. Based on the novel by Akiyuki Nosaka, adapted by the director. A Studio Ghibli movie. Remade in 2005 as a live-action feature for Japanese television. English titles: GRAVE OF THE FIREFLIES, TOMBSTONE OF THE FIREFLIES.

© Ron Altman