Waltz with Bashir (2008)

Animated Documentary of Lebanese War | 90 minutes
Rating:
7.2/10
7.2

Movie Info

Review

Waltz with Bashir (Hebrew) is a 2008 Israeli animated war documentary film written and directed by Ari Folman of his own chronicle as an Israeli soldier, with his own depiction of his lost memories of his personal search of the 1982 Lebanon War.

The movie recounts semi-conscious pronouncements about the Sabra and Chatila massacres of the 1982 Lebanese war, wherein Israeli forces allow Christian Phalangist militia into Palestinian refugee camps to slaughter civilians. This is an extraordinary animated documentary by Israeli film-maker Ari Folman fictionalised to a feature format and is the first Israeli animated feature-length films released theatrically since Ba’al Hahalomot in 1962, then directed by Alina and Yoram Gross.

Waltz with Bashir premiered at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival where it entered the competition for the Palme d’Or, and since then, the movie has won and been nominated for many significant awards while receiving extensive approval from critics. Also won a Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film, an NSFC Award for Best Film, a César Award for Best Foreign Film and an IDA Award for Feature Documentary, and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, and an Annie Award for Best Animated Feature.

By far, this is an influential and thoughtful document of war crime and its aftermath. The animation characters are deliberately focused on the psychic of war and its indemnities are captured so well. Counting on the history of what this movie signifies is an acid trip down memory lane, and Folman might have created his generation’s very own Apocalypse Now. His father too warned him of not to venture into this particular subject which does not offer a valiant view of the Israeli Army, and that Folman would be “hounded by the government for years.”

When a fellow Israeli war veteran recounts his own melancholy, otherwise by a frequent nightmare of the war in the hollow ceiling of Folman’s mind and what thus appears unquiet, along the other recruits surge naked from the black sea holding machine guns, an irresistible feeling heave on the road to Beirut’s Corniche illuminated by flares in the night sky. Aren’t the questions of carnage of Palestinian civilians in the Sabra and Chatila refugee camps real! The event burns on the edges of his subconscious are one’s own quirks and tenacities, and these strange situations of inquisitees fends off the inevitable memory which is far too long to realize those lost years

But the memory of the time has all the depth and brim. So, stand stricken and innocence does not repeat, the pleasure of losing it again in some quiet place choose to turn the page into real. The obviousness is the distant past and we are so caught up in our everyday lives that events of the past are no longer in orbit around our minds- Thus Folman’s journey to reconstruct his personal experience of the massacre, which a comrade agrees like an excuse for holding onto the past, well the vivid visuals remembering small moments destined to be lost, no matter what takes place in the interim, there are some things we can never assign to oblivion, memories we can never rub away. They remain with us forever, like a touchstone, an indefinite gist.

Ari Folman says there’s a contradiction in the film, largely to portray anti-war symbolism and the gruesome testimonials of wars through use of unconventional animation makes audience aware of the form, and experience war as a symptom of man’s failure as a thinking animal and no convictions hold anything better. As much as Folman stresses the apolitical nature of his personal journey, it is deceitful to remove the film from its wider historical context resulting the ghastly killing of civilians in the excuse of invasion of Lebanon.  Like most of the films dealing with disputed or painful historical events, this one contributes to the social meaning of the event, and determines how we will remember it.

The film takes Folman around Israel and also springs his journey to Holland. His pursuit drifts into many interesting anecdotes- He encounters with the scenes of being abandoned on a Lebanese beach, a soldier swims south to safety. And through the ire of the battle, a man imagines being rescued by a beautiful nude giantess. Troops enter a hippodrome and are shocked to find it full of dead horses. These are actual stories, told in voiceovers- The anecdotes may not all be literally true, but they are certainly obliged staying sterile, and some of them are free to scrawl a lonesome bonfire, slow or swift into its own design of the morally blank world.

The film took four years to complete. It is unusual in it being a feature-length documentary made fully by the means of animation, combining realistic graphics, and surrealistic scenes together with illustrations similar to comics caper. The whole film is animated, excluding one short segment of news archive footage. The movie occurrences are frequently conveyed by stark, neoclassical music, occasionally punctuated by the cold sounds of ’80s British art-pop. Public Image Limited’s This is Not a Love Song underscores a soldier’s tale of alienation while on furlough in a war-ignoring Israel; Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark’s Enola Gay plays as bombs fall.

Just as much-Folman’s film is not only about animated format that sets it apart, though the meticulous effort of the visuals is a key to its novelty. Waltz with Bashir is a lesson of what we think deep through invisible tracks little by little and in the persistence of memory- Folman believed that it’s been an oblivion, never would rub away and vanished. The unknowing trigger is an ex-army friend’s story of his repeated dream, wherein he is chased along a street by a pack of vicious dogs, all yellow eyes and slavering jaws. Folman perceives this to be a nightmare of war, yet wonders his role in the war. On the similar lines, the film delivers an explicit rejoinder. He proceeds to track down the soldiers he fought alongside as a 19-year-old Israeli novice, and slowly, agonizingly, reconstructs a mosaic of those days in the eye of the storm.

The film contains both fictional composites of real-life figures and actual living people.

Ari Folman, an Israeli film-maker who recently finished his military reserve service. Some twenty years before, he served in the IDF during the Lebanon War.

Miki Leon as Boaz Rein-Buskila, an accountant and Israeli Lebanon War veteran suffering from nightmares.

  Ori Sivan, an Israeli filmmaker who previously co-directed two films with Folman and is his long-time friend.

Yehezkel Lazarov as Carmi Can’an, an Israeli Lebanon War veteran who once was Folman’s friend and now lives in the Netherlands.

Ronny Dayag, an Israeli Lebanon War veteran and high food engineer. During the war, he was a Merkava tank crewman.

Shmuel Frenkel, an Israeli Lebanon War veteran. During this war he was the commander of an infantry unit.

Zahava Solomon, an Israeli psychologist and researcher in the field of psychological trauma.

Ron Ben-Yishai, an Israeli journalist who was the first to cover the massacre.

Dror Harazi, an Israeli Lebanon War veteran. During the war, he commanded a tank stationed outside the Shatila refugee camp.

 

The Crew

Written and Directed by Ari Folman

Produced by Ari Folman; Serge Lalou; Gerhard Meixner; Yael Nahlieli & Roman Paul

Music by Max Richter

Edited by Nili Feller

Production Company: Bridgit Folman Film Gang; Les Films d’Ici and Razor Film Produktion

Distributed by Sony Pictures Classics

Release date: 13 May 2008 (Cannes) and 5 June 2008 (Israel)

Run time of 90 minutes

Country: Israel-Germany- France

Language: Hebrew

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Animated Documentary of Lebanese War

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