Sunday, March 23, 2008

Hotaru no Haka: New Live Action Version in July!?

Hi Blog,

Thanks to the logging boy for pointing this out to me almost two weeks ago (delay was unavoidable...).

Anyway, the cycle in Japan of remakes (or what I can kindly call the cannibalism of older films) is speeding up. No longer content with remakes of 'old' films by Kurosawa Akira and the like there is now a new version of GRAVE OF THE FIREFLIES (火垂るの墓 aka. Hotaru no Haka) that is set for a July 5th, 2008 release.

Question: So is this a remake of the classic Takahata Isao anime from 1988? Or is it a remake of the 2005 live action TV movie made for NTV? Or, wait, am I totally wrong here and this is a page zero reinterpretation of Nosaka Akiyuki's semi-autobiographical 1967 novel?

I am a little bit more than intrigued by this version for the simple reason that while critically praised, HOTARU NO HAKA is not a big money maker because it is incredibly depressing. So the burning question is why are they making this now? Box office be damned?

For those who don't know the story I'll quote the blurb from the old Central Park Media webpage for the 1988 anime:
In the final days of World War II, a devastating firebomb attack on their city of Kobe leaves 14-year-old Seita and his 4-year-old sister Setsuko homeless orphans. The two seek refuge with a distant aunt, but after several disagreements with her, they insist on fending for themselves. But in all the chaos and destruction, can they survive outside the system? (link.)
Short answer no. While this blurb is misleading because it pitches the film as a drama with the hook being whether these children can beat the odds and survive (framed this way, it seems like a heart warming story of triumph and survival) the film is actually an unflinching portrayal of the cost of war via its toll on the innocent. (Incidentally, the fact its anime has no bearing on the power of the story its telling.)

The trailer on the website for the new live action film doesn't tell you much so it's hard to guess what kind of movie this will be. But suffice to say, no matter how they execute this story it's going to be a tear jerker. But rather than sell it as such, the splash page for the new film says: "That immortal work has become a live action film!"

Ah yes, happy stuff indeed. Bring some packets of tissues with you folks.

Link to the site.

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