Waltz With Bashir
- Kaleem Aftab
- 13 November 2008
An animated feature about war, memory displacement and the hideous genocide committed by Christian militiamen on Palestinian refugee camps in Sabra and Shatila during the 1982 Lebanese War may not sound particularly inviting but, like last year’s Persepolis, this illustrated memoir from writer and director Ari Folman attempts to tell rare and painful truths.
A conscripted Israeli soldier serves time on the frontline of a very nasty dirty little war. 20-years later he’s haunted by nightmares of what happened but he doesn’t know if the dreams, which include black dogs running wild and near-naked soldiers emerging from the sea, are hallucinations or memories of actual events that took place. He decides to find out the truth by visiting a psychiatrist and interviewing his fellow soldiers about the fateful nights following the assassination of Lebanese politician Bashir Gemayel.
On an aesthetic level the decision to tell the story using animation is a successful one as it fuses seemingly disparate elements of both surreal and documentary cinema. The removal of realism from such a historically pregnant background does cause some problems, many of which Folman attempts to redress in the clumsy final sequences. However, this remains a brave, damning and riveting piece of cinema that deserves to find an audience.
Selected release from Fri 21 Nov. See profile.