Waltz with Bashir

Waltz with Bashir

Film review by: Witney Seibold



            The more you know about the Lebanese invasion of the earl 1980s going into “Waltz with Bashir,” the better off you will be. I remember bits and pieces from the news reports and Mad Magazines of my childhood, but am still a little unclear as to what the conflict was about. Hence, “Waltz with Bashir” was a gorgeous phantasmagoria of nightmare war images, but largely a confusing one with a confused narrative. I could sense there was something very important being described to me, but I’ll be dipped if I could tell you what it was.


            Director Ari Folman took part in the Lebanese conflict, but can’t seem remember exactly anything that he did; there are huge gaps in his memory. He has decided to make a documentary film in which he interviews his fellow soldiers to piece together what happened all those years ago. Many of his friends refused to appear on camera, so he gets around it by animating himself and his friends (and their flashbacks) in a style of animation that looks a lot like Richard Linklater’s fantastic “Waking Life,” but is not actually rotoscoped.


            The film’s dream sequences are terrifying and beautiful. Once sequence shows a young man floating away from a boat fire on the body of an enormous nude woman. Another shows a pack of monstrous dogs chasing a man through the streets to his apartment. These sequences have a visceral power unmatched in many films. The images of violence and war are diffused by the animation, until we realize that actual events are being described to us. Eventually, Folman does begin to piece together what happened. The film’s final shots are live action footage of the actual invasion. It was far more violent and horrible than we could have imagined.


            I just wish I had known more about this conflict. When I see a WWII film, I know all the players at this point. When I see a group of emaciated prisoners being led into a building with a smokestack, I know what’s happening. I think what Folman is trying to do is give the world new images to protest a war that it may not know as well, but probably should. Seeing as “Waltz with Bashir” was nominated for many awards, and has been widely seen in art houses around L.A., he may be successful.



Published in: on February 24, 2009 at 10:27 pm  Leave a Comment  

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