Movie Name: Waltz with Bashir
Studio: Bridgit Folman Film Gang
Release Date(s): May 13, 2008 (Cannes Film Festival)/June 5, 2008 (Israel)
MPAA Rating: R
A visit from an old friend awakens memories in Ari Folman that he tried to suppress. As a teen, Folman was part of the Israel Defense Forces during the Lebanon War and haunted by memories of the Sabra and Shatila massacre of 1982. Folman sets out on a quest to talk the people there with him to find out what really happened and what he was responsible for in the massacre.
Written, directed, and starring Ari Folman, Waltz with Bashir (ואלס עם באשיר or Vals Im Bashir) was an animated documentary feature. The film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival and received critical acclaim. The movie was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.
I had no expectations about Waltz with Bashir. I didn’t know what the film was about nor much about the style of the film. I was pleasantly surprised by what comes down to a study of what the does to try to forget things it can’t handle and the war was a good way to do that.
The horrors of war and forever changes a person. Folman’s life seemed fine, but there was this darkness lurking under the surface that he kept repressed. The people that he speaks to have stories of survival and horrors that are also haunting them…something cannot be forgotten over time. The story goes and gets different perspectives on the war but everyone seems to be trapped in the fog of war as to what actually occurred.
The animation of the film has a very unique style. The movie looks like rotoscope but is actually just illustrations of live action interviews. The art was then manipulated in Flash animation. It gives the movie a weird sense of realism but it still doesn’t movie like rotoscope…it becomes more wooden which fits with the theme that these are recalled memories and interpretations of events…it isn’t reality but a version of it. The film also utilizes real footage near the end to show the real unfiltered horror of the dead.
Overall, Waltz with Bashir is a great movie though it really isn’t a “story” so much as an examination of events. As someone who was very young during the events of the movie and so removed from the location, it would have been nice to have a little more background on the events to get a handle on the basics. Even without knowing about the conflict, the movie is worth checking out because the basic ideas are universal.