Waltz with Bashir (2008)
A mix between animation, documentary, and war drama, this Israeli film is something uniquely different and remarkable. Filmmaker Ari Folman interviews fellow veteran servicemen from Israel’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon in hopes of jogging his memory. He has blocked out the painful memories of war but his mind is reawakened as he reexamines the truth about the conflict and eventual massacre of Lebanese Arabs. Folman utilizes a rotoscope style of animation, which gives it a heightened reality and an intoxicating painterly beauty. He also takes advantage of the fact that atrocities can be easier to stomach when presented through the barrier of tasteful animation. However, it will be hard to keep from being affected (a scene of dying horses got to me bad). The realms of reality, fantasy, nightmare, and memory can crash together in fascinating ways, and eventually the movie transforms outright into a full-fledged documentary that melts away any last obstacle of empathy, ending with real disturbing footage of the massacre’s aftermath. Waltz with Bashir does not come with an agenda in tow, which allows the movie to explore the ambiguities of being young, nationalistic, confused, and armed in a hostile land. Folman is trying to peel away at the unbiased truth of the matter and cleanse his curiosity and, perhaps, his conscience. His filmic journey to that elusive and painful truth is a movie that crosses cultures and redefines what a documentary can be.
Nate’s Grade: A