Last weekend I took out time to watch Soldier Turned-filmmaker Ari Folman’s striking anti-war animated movie- Waltz with Bashir-
Nominated for Best Foreign Language Film of the Year at Oscars, BAFTA Film Awards, Cannes Film Festival for the Golden Palm & many more. This movie was kept with me for quite some time( I got it through a friend who worked on this movie). The thing which attracted me to watch the movie was the animation, and now I can say I don’t regret the decision. Waltz with Bashir is a visually dazzling animated memoir. The movie from Israel tells the director’s experiences as a soldier during the Lebanon War in 1982.
Waltz is about memory. It’s a story about conflict trauma and PTSD. I t’s a story about how the responsibility for atrocities tends to be passed from one set of hands to another, never resting, and how the impact of violence is also passed down, never resting. It’s a story about what combatants on both sides have in common: we are human beings.
The filmmaker’s emotional attempt to decipher the horrors that unfolded one night in September of 1982, when Christian militia members massacred more than 3000 Palestinians refugees in the heart of Beruit as Israeli soldiers surrounded the area. Folman was one of those soldiers, but nearly twenty-years after the fact his memories of that night remain particularly hazy. After hearing an old friend recall a vivid nightmare in which he is pursued by twenty-six ferocious dogs, Folman and his friend conclude that the dream must somehow relate to that fateful mission during the first Lebanon War. When Folman realizes that his recollections regarding that period in his life seem to have somehow been wiped clean, he travels the world to interview old friends and fellow soldiers from the war. Later, as Folman’s memory begins to emerge in a series of surreal images, he begins to uncover a truth about himself that will haunt him for the rest of his days.
The Film open’s with a scene of dogs chasing a man through a street and then there are gun shots. The opening of the movie really grabs your attention and quite striking to even shock you in the beginning. According to me it is one of the best opening sequence of a movie. From here starts a series of flashbacks as the director reconstructs his experiences of war. But this war movie is different and the end is a slap at the face of lies we’ve been hearing for such a long time.
This idea of cinema as therapy is great. If there’s film as entertainment, why not a way of recovering memory, even if it pains? Courageous choice, no doubt by the Director… plus, I don’t remember to hear from an Hebrew mouth that they treat Palestinians in the same way that the Nazis did with them. In this film, people survive..they survive a Holocaust. This is not a war film. It’s an anti-war film. A film where the war is projected through animated vibrant, angular drawings of a graphic artist- David Polonsky.
The frank treatment of a very sensitive subject may not suit to everyone’s taste. Waltz with Bashir is perhaps one of the most honest documentaries I’ve ever seen despite never using any actual footage of the events in question (with the exception of one scene). A must watch I recommend.