in General

Fireflies, Obession and Death

I recently watched Grave of the Fireflies (known as Hotaru no haka in Japan), an anime film set in WWII Japan. It was a truly sorrowful movie with poignant storytelling rarely displayed in animation or film in general. The story followed a young man and his younger sister as he struggled to keep from her the pain of the war and loss of their family members as well as the more pressing trouble of starvation. A bleak and realistic protrayal of war from a civilian perspective, it also served as a warning against pride, as Seita’s pride in part cost his sister her life. Take heed that this film may cause tears, but seek it out, for it is an example of fine storytelling.

From the local library I borrowed the documentary Crumb, which explores the life of Robert Crumb, an influential and controversial comics creator, writer and artist who became an icon of the underground comics movement of the 1960’s. Mr. Crumb is a complex and unusual man who is driven by obsessions and a rather bizarre life to create powerful visions of each. The documentary clearly showed the causes of Crumb’s obsessions and the roots of his abnormalities. It was a facinating and disturbing look at the psychology of his family, who all had deep spiritual wounds.

Earlier I also borrowed the two volumes of The Tibetan Book of the Dead (“A Way of Life” and “The Great Liberation”), a documentary production of the National Film Board of Canada. It was a facinating explaination of the Buddhist faith and its approach to death and reincarnation. Very human stories were told along with protrayals of the mystical elements of the process of dying, which created an effective blend. Both a learning experience and a touching story, this is certainly worthy of searching for if you have any interest in Buddhism.

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