Entertainment » Movies

Waltz With Bashir

by Phil Hall
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Thursday Jun 25, 2009
Waltz With Bashir

If anything, Ari Folman's Waltz With Bashir is an original concept: an animated feature film rooted in a documentary/film essay rumination about suppressed memories of wartime conflict.

Obviously, this is not your average cartoon.

Folman is the central character, and his problem comes in trying to comprehend why he cannot remember circumstances during his period as a teenage member of the Israel Defense Force during the 1982 invasion and occupation of Lebanon.

Folman speaks with fellow veterans, a psychologist and a TV reporter who was present in Beirut to piece together the missing sections of his memory.

A great deal of "Waltz With Bashir" is rich with striking animated sequences that combines elements of music videos, video games and surreal art.

Nightmarish sequences of the battlefront are balanced with a seemingly clinical narration by Folman and the other veterans, as if the characters have become numb to the horrors they have to live with.

Politically, however, "Waltz With Bashir" offers a significant problem in that Folman and his fellow veterans are presented as victims rather than victimizers.

Outside of Israel, the invasion of Lebanon was considered an act of aggression, not self-defense, and the characters' indifference to the Lebanese people (let alone the Palestinians massacred at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps by Lebanon's Christian Phalangist troops under Israeli supervision) makes it difficult to sympathize with their plight.

That Folman and his cronies show no sympathy whatsoever to the slain and wounded of the war - although they are heartsick over the sight of dead dogs and horses - is more than a little troubling.

The film's abrupt switch in its final reel to news footage of Sabra and Shatila is a mistake - the intrusion of ghastly reality on this highly artistic production suggests that Folman could have made a more relevant film rather than this too-clever offering.

Phil Hall is the author of "The Greatest Bad Movies of All Time

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