Jul 26

Life-long Learning through Four Animated War Films

“It’s only lines on paper, folks!” — R. Crumb

Here are four animated films that celebrate what it is to be human, question what we take for granted, and connect us to the larger picture of the world that we live in. These films can be a part of any grown-up’s life-long learning project.


Marjane, the child protagonist of the film grows up in a left-wing family that struggles to fight the rule of the Shah and then the Islamic revolutionaries. The film is a presentation of the dichotomy between the family’s personal beliefs and the external political environment. 

Questions the Film Evokes

  • What is our personal history? 
  • How is our life’s story, also the story of our society?

A Piece of History
A quick historical bite to put the film in context:


When the Wind Blows

A story of a loving couple that has lived through one war in childhood and prepares for another in old age. As the old couple prepares to face the brunt of the war, the movie depicts how far removed war is from the basic human need for love, comfort and peace. 

Questions the Film Evokes

  • Where does war fit in with basic human nature? 
  • What human need does war fulfil? 

A Piece of History
A picture of the health hazards of the nuclear bombing in Japan:


Waltz with Bashir

The film explores Israel’s mass amnesia (metaphorical and real) related to the 1982 Lebanese war and the massacres in Sabra and Chatila. This intense watch takes you to the minds of people who were a part of the war—and once again this film too contrasts true human compassion with the absolute terror that we’re capable of inflicting on our own species. 

Questions the Film Evokes:

  • What are the collective lies we’re hearing around us?
  • What’s behind our silence when such grave events take place? 

A Piece of History
Noam Chomsky on the Sabra and Chatila massacre:


Grave of the Fireflies

This is a grave story of innocence and resilience in the backdrop of WWII. Two war orphans seek refuge with an aunt who takes advantage of their situation and dislikes their presence. The two run away to live in an abandoned shelter. The story traces their lives of starvation and misery as the war comes to an end.

Questions the Film Evokes:
Does animation make the unbearable, almost watchable?

A Piece of History
Japan’s imperial ambitions:



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