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Spare The Last Dance: Waltz With Bashir Review


Waltz With Bashir
Note: The following review for “Waltz with Bashir” focuses on the artistic merits of the film. The interpretations I’ve gathered from the film are mentioned to add breadth and analysis to the director's arguments. It is not Bitter Balcony’s intention to spark political debates, even though they are welcome within the context of the discussed film. Man, this feels like a very special episode of “Different Strokes.” No fun. Well, we’ll always have “Politico”!

For those who have experienced the horrors of war, the hardest thing to do might be to forget. Israeli director Ari Folman has somehow blocked the memories of his youth as an Israeli solider in 1982 during the First Lebanon War. The only memory left from his tour of duty is a dream of himself and a few members of his troop bathing in the shores of a Beirut beach while flares light up the night.

“Waltz with Bashir” is Folman's attempt at perusing a murky past in a pioneering documentary/animation film that journeys into his subconscious as well as a journalistic account of the events that led to the assassination of Lebanon President-elect Bachir Gemayel and the subsequent Palestinian refugee camps Sabra and Shatila massacre.

Folman, whose calm demeanor hides a seeming uneasiness, interviews former friends and fellow veterans about their experiences in an effort to uncover the reality behind his dream. However, he finds out that these men also struggle with their recollection, forging the surreal into the confessions of survival and regret. Folman fills in the gaps with a clinical analysis by psychologist Zahava Solomon and the reporting reconnaissance of brave Israeli journalist Ron Ben-Yishai.

The film's animation style draws comparisons with Richard Linklater's “Walking Life” and “A Scanner Darkly.” However, Folman and his crew absconded Linklater's Rotoscoping approach, using the live footage solely as a storyboard to base the drawings on. The accomplishment is grand, considering how realistically detailed the human expressions are preserved amidst the wild and unbelievable action behind each animated cell. An impressive scene involves a battle between Israeli troops and PLO insurgents. The Israeli soldiers, using a submerged sidewalk as a trench, shoot upward at a damaged condominium where their enemies lie. Ben-Yishai, along with a crawling cameraman, walks straight into the urban crossfire fearlessly while bullets miss him. Civilians stand on their balconies like spectators to a sporting event as electronic music pulses in the background.

Folman, by incorporating both the documentary and animation genres, has added a refreshing entry into the war-film library.

Like the dance in its title, “Waltz with Bashir” carefully balances a personal subject matter with the ambiguous political implications behind it. The role that Israel played in the Lebanese Forces militia group massacre is widely disputed. Folman’s view implies Israel's military was at best helpless observers and at worst Pontius Pilate-towel holders to its country's involvement. This statement will certainly stir polarizing opinions, but that debate does not interfere with the anti-war message Folman advocates.

“Waltz with Bashir” is a war movie with no heroes or sacrifice and doesn’t turn into a ceremonious memoriam. This is merely a story of young men who are thrown into severe situation where reason and justification lack logic and life is a misstep away from death. Almost as grave, Folman argues that the lingering traumas will always stay with a man, even the most forgetful ones.



Official website:

Waltz With Bashir


Directed by: Ari Folman
Written by: Ari Folman
Cast: Ari Folman(voice),Ron Ben-Yishai(voice)

Source of the Bitter: John Rojas

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