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"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

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The value of lower life forms

From Beth Solomon:

I'm wondering why the main characters both blow up fish and smash fireflies with tennis rackets in this film ["Fireflies in the Garden"]. Perhaps destroying lower life forms makes it possible for these sad individuals to confirm their importance in the universe. It's a sad commentary on this family and their vailues. There is no mention made of it in any reviews I have read, and none in the discourse about the film. I think it's a shocking point, and should be acknowledged.

Ebert: My impression is that although they set off exposions in the water and swatted with rackets, no living things were harmed. I question how easily you can kill a firefly with a tennis racquet. There is also this question: How do we feel about killing insects? Yes, all living things are wonderful, but is there a difference between a horse and a cockroach?

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