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Waltz with Bashir (DVD)
Member Name: thedevilinme
Waltz with Bashir (DVD)
Date: 30/06/11, updated on 30/06/11 (73 review reads)
Advantages: Smart and imagnitive
Certificate - 18
Run- Time - 90 minutes
Country - Israel
Genre - Adult animation
Whereas most films that tackle the struggle between the Israelis and Palestinians tend to back the Palestinians, reflecting a similar bias in the general public, Waltz with Bashir has a different agenda. Shot in a unique 3D animated style this Israeli made documentary about their countries role in the 1982 invasion of the Lebanon wants to use that extra dimension and unreality of animation to offer some sort of Israeli contrition over the most controversial aspects of that war.
When the Israeli military steamed into Beirut they triggered a slaughter in the Palestinian refugee camps of 'Sabra and Shatria' on the outskirts of the city, the atrocity committed by the 'Christian Lebanese Phalangists', a militant separatist group who had a score to settle with the PLO who they though were hiding out in the camps, but the Israeli army shamefully looking on as this happened, their inaction clearly aiding the 'cleansing'. The sons and daughters of the Jewish parents who had suffered one of the worst genocides imaginable in the 1940s, children lucky to even be born, had done nothing to stop another genocide unfolding in front of their eyes. After the assassination of Bachir Gemayel, leader and president-elect of the Lebanese Kataeb Party, the malitia were allowed to enter the camps and murder an estimated 2500 civilians over 48 hours and it was the Israelis who controlled the entrances to the camps and let them in for some reason. Not only that but they fired flares over the camps to light it up during the night.
As this is an Israeli perspective to tumultuous events in the region its no surprise most of the region concluded the film was yet more Israeli propaganda to soften their true role in events. To some extent that is true. It's often the case that not only do winners write history but filmmakers too. The Lebanese have refused to allow the film to be shown in their country because of its assumptions.
---The unique style of animation----
Although the director Ari Folman plays the lead character most of the cast are people who were involved in some way in that war and re-live their experiences through the mesmeric and hypnotic animation on screen. This was only the second Israeli animated feature film length to be released in the country in 40 years. The production team shot live action footage, but this was then used as references for the film's storyboards. The storyboards where then redrawn as digital paintings, which were manipulated with Flash animation. They were then given the clever and engaging semi 3D makeover (no glasses required) that produces this movies unique style. Artist and animator David Polonsky is right handed, but did most of the illustration for this film with his left hand, as he felt that his original drawing were 'too pretty', again a smart move. See the trailer below to sample the animation.
~ ~ ~The Cast ~ ~ ~
Ari Folman ... Himself (voice)
Ori Sivan ... Himself (voice)
Ronny Dayag ... Himself (voice)
Shmuel Frenkel ... Himself (voice)
Zahava Solomon ... Herself (voice)
Ron Ben-Yishai ... Himself (voice)
Dror Harazi ... Himself (voice)
Mickey Leon ... Boaz Rein-Buskila (voice)
Yehezkel Lazarov ... Carmi Cna'an (voice)
~ ~ ~ The Plot ~ ~ ~
(in brackets the voice of)
Its 2006 and a middle-class grown man called Ari Forman (himself) has been having increasing nightmares of late were 28 snarling dogs chase him to his front door. Seeking advice from his psychiatrist friend Ronny to help make the dream go away he asks what the possible meaning could be. Ronny (Ronny Dayag) thinks it probably refers to his buried memories of his time in the army and the invasion of the Lebanon. For some reason he can't remember any of that.
We learn that in 1982 he was a 19-year-old infantry soldier in the tank regiment in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), one of the first units to go into Beirut. Also in the dream is a somewhat homoerotic scene where his soldier friends are bathing naked at night by the Beirut seaside under the light of flares descending over the city. It's suggested to Folman by Ronny to catch up with his old war buddies from that period to try and recover his memories and so collaborate his role with theirs in the conflict. They range from a TV reporter, Ron Ben-Yishai (himself), who was in Beirut at the time, to two fellow soldiers Ori Sivan (Himself) and Shmuel Frenkel (Himself) from his tank group, and many other peripheral characters that flirt around them in his growing number of flashbacks.
As the truth unfolds we join the memories of the troops driving into Beirut, young naive conscripts being shot at by experienced malitia from all sides. It soon becomes clear how traumatic Ari's experience was and what actually went on in those camps. But what's with the snarling dogs?
Is it biased, yes, is it balanced, no, but it's still an intelligent and imaginative exploration of the effects of war. The animation is superb and beautiful and the oral acting suitably full of pathos ad meaning. Yes the Israeli soldiers are cast as innocent conscripts who were doing what they are told but the reality is many soldiers are young and know no different and terrified by war on the ground. As far as the massacre goes you don't really learn much about that from this is this is an animation and a film first and polemic last. The film ends with animation dissolving into actual footage of the aftermath of the Sabra and Shatila massacre, a disturbing experience for you to decide that way.
It won multiple awards around the festival and award ceremonies circuit and so obviously worth a look, earning an Academy Award nomination for Best Foreign Animation in 2004. It's also a quirky and unusual conduit to explore such a traumatic part of history in the region, like I said, a way to detract from its seriousness and culpability by its Israeli director and cast from the pacifist angle. On the whole though it's just too original to miss and a great way to explore a little talked about time in history. Anti Israeli's will hate the message though.
The New Yorker -"A movie so unusual that it overflows any box in which you try to contain it.
CNN Film - Every scene fizzes and crackles with creative charisma as we are carried on an emotional journey of epic proportions.
The Times - "Despite the director's refusal to come to terms with Israel's role in the Sabra-Shatila massacre, this is a pacifist film that ranks with "Platoon" and other classics.
The Baltimore Bugle -"An arresting concept, yet the resulting film is skimpy, numbing, and less searching than it believes it is"
Imdb.com - 8 out of 10 (21, 486 votes)
Metacritic.com - 91% approval rating by critics.
Rottentomatos.com - 96% approval rating by critics.
Radio Times Film Year Book - 4/5
Leonardo Maltin Film Year Book - 3 /4
Summary: Animation at its most inventive