Movie Project #35 and #36: Grave of the Fireflies [1988] and Crash [2004]

The 50 Movies Project is a personal “marathon” of mine. In June, I compiled a list of 50 movies that I felt I needed to see by the end of the year. Old, new, foreign, English — it doesn’t matter. These are all movies that I have heard a lot about and have been wanting to see for some time. This project gives me a way to stay focused on the goal.

Grave of the Fireflies [1988]
Grave of the Fireflies [1988, Isao Takahata]
Starring Tsutomu Tatsumi, Ayano Shiraishi, Akemi Yamaguchi.

Grave of the Fireflies is unlike any other animated film I have ever seen. It is simultaneously beautiful and devastating as it shows life in Japan near the end of World War II. The movie follows two orphaned children, 14-year-old Seita and his 4-year-old sister Setsuko, as they struggle to get by in their war torn village. They find temporary solace in the home of a distant aunt, but she makes it clear that they are a burden on her and her family, and they are hardly welcomed in the household. Later, the children attempt to live on their own, but it is obvious that Seita is not in a position to take care of a young child. It’s heartbreaking to watch the two children fend for themselves as they struggle to acquire even basic nourishments.

This is an incredibly sad and tragic film, one that is made even more powerful because it is based on a true story. Grave of the Fireflies is an emotional experience, to say the least, and it may very well be one of the best anti-war films ever made. An absolute must-see. 10/10

Crash [2004, Paul Haggis]
Crash [2004, Paul Haggis]
Starring Don Cheadle, Sandra Bullock, Thandie Newton.

Out of all the movies in my project, the inclusion of Crash is what garnered the biggest reaction. The initial response from commenters was mostly negative, but then it started to get some vocal support as well. It’s clear that this is a polarizing film, and that’s why I wanted to see it. As the credits began to roll, I had just one question: How the hell did this movie win Best Picture???

There really wasn’t much I liked about Crash at all. The film tries so hard to tackle the touchy subject of racism, even going so far as to incorporate at least a half dozen different races, all of whom make derogatory comments to each other. There are no likable characters, and they all act irrationally. The whole movie felt artificial and forced to me, as characters found ways to incorporate racist remarks into *EVERY* single dialogue exchange. Look, I know there are a lot of racist fucks out there, but I still have a hard time believing people speak this way all the time. Some of the character behavior was simply ridiculous, too, such as that of Terrence Howard’s character, who exploded into a fit of rage that was completely out of character considering his past actions. The entire film had an air of pretentiousness to it, right down to the pompous soundtrack that tried to make everything more dramatic than it really was. With hackneyed writing and dozens of pathetic stereotypes, Crash is an embarrassment that should not have even been nominated for Best Picture. 4/10

23 thoughts on “Movie Project #35 and #36: Grave of the Fireflies [1988] and Crash [2004]

  1. scarletsp1der says:

    I was just told of Grave of the Fireflies by a friend and intend on watching it! He also gives it a perfect score.

    I have to disagree with you on Crash though. I felt it was very real, appropriate, and an excellent portrayal of what so many people try to ignore and not acknowledge even when it is right in their face.

    anyways, here are my thoughts if you fancy a read:

    • Eric says:

      Hi Scarlet, thanks for stopping by!

      Grave of the Fireflies is fantastic and is absolutely worth seeing. As for Crash, I appreciated the concept, but so much of the dialogue and racial issues felt forced to me. I will be sure to check out your review — it’s always good to hear another perspective.

  2. jsicktheslick says:

    Oh man, I remember watching Grave of the Fireflies in my high school Japanese class: it’s absolutely amazing and tragic! It’s a very accurate representation, too, of some prople’s lives after the war. Beautifully animated and endearing. Great film!

  3. The Heretic says:

    I love Grave of the Fireflies, very sad movie. I would actually like to read the book that it was based on. Although I am not sure if it was ever translated into English. Might have to learn Japanese at some point.

  4. Castor says:

    If you didn’t shed a tear watching Grave of the Fireflies, you are a stone-cold-hearted person! Absolutely fantastic movie, perhaps the greatest animation ever made IMO.

  5. Matt Stewart says:

    I need to see Grave of the Fireflies, certainly sounds to be a great film. Agree on Crash, so overrated.

    Nice work and thanks for the comment on my blog!

    • Eric says:

      No problem, Matt, thanks for stopping by. I was disgusted with Crash by the end of it, not because of the absurd racism in the film but because it won Best Picture!! I still cannot believe that.

  6. Nostra says:

    Grave is indeed a must-see and one of the few movies I also gave a 10/10. Studio Ghibli has shown that an animated movie can be about any subject and have just as much emotion as any other drama.

    • Eric says:

      Yeah, 10/10s are hard to come by from me, but I have watched quite a few deserving gems in this project. Glad to hear you are a big fan of Grave as well.

  7. fogsmoviereviews says:

    “With hackneyed writing and dozens of pathetic stereotypes, Crash is an embarrassment that should not have even been nominated for Best Picture.”

    I laughed out loud at that. Gave it the big old HA! 😀 I dont know if Id be THAT harsh on it, but I see your point.

    I’ll put Grave of the Fireflies on my radar

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