Ten years after the release of Fumiyo Kono’s acclaimed manga of the same name, In This Corner of the World has been adapted for the screen in Sunao Katabuchi’s beautiful hand-drawn film. The coming of age tale focuses on the life of Suzu Urano, a young newlywed who has moved to a peaceful town just outside of Hiroshima. We follow Suzu and the women around her as they do their best to contribute to the war effort in the years leading up to the devastating atomic bomb attack. Wrapped in a dreamlike nostalgia, In this Corner of the World is a sobering depiction of what was lost in Hiroshima during WWII; illustrating the strength and resilience of women in the face of tragedy.
World War II films are often thought of as synonymous with the male dominated frontlines. But here we take a look at some other films that focus on the resilience and patriotic fervor of women during wartime.
In This Corner of the World is in UK cinemas today!
Mrs. Miniver (1942)
The winner of six Academy Awards, Mrs Miniver depicts how the life of a housewife in rural England was effected by World War II. Released while the war was still in full swing, the film was acclaimed as an inspiring piece on the strength of the women left at home. The story follows Kay Miniver as she navigates family life in wartime Britain. She becomes the matriarch whose devotion shields her family; displaying wholesome and defiant scenes of perseverance such as reading Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland in a bomb shelter and attending flower shows. A depiction of the definitive “Keep Calm and Carry On” British wartime spirit, Mrs Miniver is a classic tale of resilience in the face of devastation, as a middle class family from a fictional town on the outskirts of London adapt to the looming hostility of war.
Margarethe von Trotta’s German film pieces together the events of the Rosentrasse protest, which took place in Berlin during the winter of 1943. The protest saw women demanding the release of their Jewish husbands from a Nazi jail by waiting outside for seven days and nights. The story is told from the perspective of three women, all from different generations. In the year 2000, Hannah travels from New York to Berlin to discover the truth behind her mother Ruth’s troubled and mysterious past. In Berlin she finds Lena, an elderly women who adopted Ruth as a child. Through a series of flashbacks, we see the story of the Rosentrasse protests and learn how it connects the three women.
Charlotte Gray (2001)
Charlotte Gray takes the women’s wartime effort away from the home and into the action. Cate Blanchett plays the title role, a Scottish woman who joins the Special Operations Executive to work with the French resistance in Nazi-occupied France. Assuming the alias of Dominique Gilbert from Paris, Gray parachutes into France and immerses herself in the conflict; attempting to save the lives of two Jewish children and fighting to put an end to Nazi occupation. Although this seems revolutionary, the film still restricts itself by resting Gray’s motivations on a tedious love triangle. Being a woman, she must apparently be motivated by her love of men, rather than the love of her country. Based on the bestselling novel by Sebastian Faulks, the story was inspired by the real exploits of British women such as Pearl Cornioley and Odette Sansom.
Testament of Youth (2014)
Based on Vera Brittain’s seminal memoir, Testament of Youth is a classic account of the war from a woman’s point of view, which is so often brushed over. The film begins with Vera (Alicia Vikander) full of youthful hope; having won a scholarship to Oxford and fallen in love with her brother’s friend Roland (Kit Harrington). Her dreams are abruptly upheaved by the First World War. We follow her as the war takes her to the depths of despair and back again. Vera must put her literary dreams on hold and become a nurse, doing all she can to ease the pain of war. This film is an elegant depiction of the futility of war and the stolen youth of a generation.
Grave of the Fireflies (1988)
Set in Kobe, Japan, Grave of the Fireflies follows the desperate plight for survival that young Setsuko and her older brother, Seita, faced during the final months of WWII. Having been left without parents and homeless by the war, the two siblings are left to fend for themselves. In what critics deemed “the most profoundly human animated film,” Grave of the Fireflies gives us a glaring illustration of the desperate struggle to survive faced by innocent children. Made by Studio Ghibli, who brought us Spirited Away and Kiki’s Delivery Service, the film allows us to see the heartbreaking realities of life in WWII Japan through the eyes of a four year old girl. This film will make you cry.
Their Finest (2017)
Their Finest tells the story of Catrin Cole (Gemma Arterton), a screenwriter enlisted into making a morale boosting propaganda film during the Blitz. We follow the British Ministry of Information team as Cole attempts to feed a female angle into a film about twin girls who stole their father’s boat to help with the evacuation of Dunkirk. Presented in an interesting film-within-a-film structure and directed by Lone Scherfig (An Education); Their Finest gives an inspiring story about a woman overcoming prejudice and defying expectation in wartime Britain. The film was adapted from Lissa Evan’s novel, Their Finest Hour and a Half, and loosely based on the real life of Diana Morgan.
Gone with the Wind (1939)
Often regarded as one of the greatest films of all time, the epic Gone with the Wind follows the life of Scarlett O’Hara as she adapts her southern belle life to the uproar of the American Civil War. O’Hara becomes a beacon of perseverance and hope as her will to survive outshines the chaos that surrounds her. She weaves webs of deception in order to stay close to the object of her infatuation, Ashley, and even marries her sister’s beau in order to stay financially stable. All the while, the handsome Rhett Butler is trying to catch her in between husbands.