Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Vals Im Bashir (Waltz with Bashir) (2008)

This documentary-meets-animation story begins with two friends trying to recall an experience. Ari Folman meets with friend and fellow veteran of the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon. He recounts to Ari a recurring dream that he's being chased by a savage pack of dogs. Is there a connection to their service in the war? Ari, not able to recall that period, embarks on a memory-reconstructing mission. He tracks down other fellow veterans and as he interviews each one, his own memories start returning and we are right there with him and the interviewees, piecing it together.

The animation is stunning and lines are contorted and jerky to convey the atmosphere of living amidst war. The ominous dark shades contrast nicely against the rich muted tones. So surreal, I often forgot I was watching an autobiographical tale and not fiction. Spots of humor are carefully placed. There's also a detail reminiscent of filmmaker John Hughes (RIP)--many scenes depict background activity while maintaining the main action in the foreground, adding to the already rich eye candy. However, you never get away from the war and its atrocities. As a civilian, I often hear about war, yet watching this made me realize how abstract it is to me. I don't visualize what it would be like to be left behind in enemy territory after most of your troop has been executed while running from the enemy. Waltz with Bashir is a tale of survival, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and the folly of war. The movie ends with live footage of the aftermath of a particularly bloody mission--the culmination of war and the horrors Folman struggles with and hopes aren't repeated.

Writer/Director: Ari Folman

Country: Israel

Genre: Animation, documentary

Run time: 89 minutes

Scale: 5

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