Still have not seen a film that is more sad than this one. It's almost unbearable. Too sad to see with dry eyes. I cried buckets worth of salty tears. Should be shown to War Generals and Governments all around the world. If not for unnecessary pain and suffering at least for small children, you aggressive people. At least for children. We're all children. Don't kill us off. This is an absolute masterpiece. Hats off.
SPOILERS AHEAD. Though I am grateful that Ebert's praise brought many people's attention, including mine, to Takahata's work, I must disagree with his anti-war reading of this film. Rather, I view it more as a critique of nationalism since it's the main character's pride that leads to his and his sister's downfall. On the topic of the sister, I found her death and following montage too manipulative for my taste.
The deviations of a more emotional character imply the insistence on a rhetoric of feelings that prevents this film to reach the highest point that its formal structure allows: it’s a beautiful animated film, a wise space exploration of the medium's potential, in its visual and narrative components. However, the excess around the girl's death causes a movement a contrario sensu to its sensitive perception.
The saddest war movie I've ever seen, made especially sad by the strength, resilience, and joie de vire our protagonists demonstrate.
The best non-Miyazaki Studio Ghibli movie; and ranks right up with the best that Miyazaki made.
Highest rated film among the MUBIers I follow, and it's not hard to see why. One awful death refracted through the modern history of a nation, the ethics of familial love and the physical intimacies of existence that children know best. More honest about its combination of sentiment and gravity than Sirk, Borzage or Spielberg, and more ruthless too. The last shot is as expansively poetic as any I've ever seen.