Monday, February 2, 2009

Waltz With Bashir

Waltz With Bashir is a powerful animated documentary which divulges into the unconscious and repressed memories of former Israeli soldiers. The film, written and directed by Ari Folman, is narrated by him, a man in his mid thirties who has lost any memory from his time in combat. He goes on a journey to discover who he was and what he did when he served in the Israel Defense Forces and fought in the war with Lebanon in 1982. He visits former friends who he served with in the hopes that their stories would help trigger his own memories and he could gain some form of understanding as to what he did during the war. Waltz with Bashir is a powerful and non-sugar coated assessment of the realities of combat and war. It shows these "men" at age 18 clueless driving tanks around Beirut conditioned to kill.

At first I thought that because it was animated, it might take away from the significance of the piece and the subject matter. However, it in no way did and if anything made it much more dramatic to watch war scenes in animation. Two thirds of the way into the film i found the narrator's voice to be particularly monotonous and at that point I started thinking it would have been better as a short. However, just as the film lost my focus it was able to draw me back in again at the end in an unbelievably powerful way.

Waltz with Bashir got a lot of buzz at Cannes and is nominated for best foreign film for the Academy Awards. It is an important piece all based on truth. I highly recommend it!

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