Waltz With Bashir – ***1/2

Posted: June 5, 2012 in 2008, Animation, France, Israel, War, XXX1/2



It took me a few years to watch Waltz With Bashir because of its heavy content. There’s always another movie with a somewhat lighter subject matter at hand. Watching an animated documentary about a massacre during the Lebanese war of 1982 just isn’t all that appealing, even though you know it’s one of the most acclaimed movie pictures of recent years. I just finished it however and I’m glad I did. I haven’t seen anything like this before. This is truly a unique masterpiece.

I was personally more impressed by the animation than by the story. In the end it’s a documentary about an Israeli guy who interviews friends from his period as a soldier in the Lebanese War in order to get the facts straight about certain memories he has. I’m not sure I would have finished this movie if it had been made as a regular documentary. But the animation is extraordinary and allows the movie to become more than a historical recount. Waltz With Bashir feels like a graphic novel with moving characters. Most of the backgrounds are stills and the action is slow-paced, but it never bores and some scenes are ingenious. The drawings are spectacular, especially the use of color adds to a grim, but fascinating atmosphere. There’s even room for humor (like the scene where they watch German porn on tv) and fantasy (the several dream sequences). But at other points the animation just shows people being interviewed or others having a conversation at a bar.

On the dvd there’s an interview with the director of the movie, who turns out to be quite a controversial, somewhat arrogant and opinionated guy (who dislikes everything about Schindler’s List for instance).  But I loved listening to him. Even though the real star of this movie is the graphic illustrator David Polonsky, it’s the director who came up with the ideas. The scene that the title is referring to is awesome. It’s incredibly well animated, but in the end the idea came from the director. The movie ends abruptly with a surprise, but it all makes sense in the end. You may have enjoyed the animation, but let it be clear: there is a lot of ugliness in the world.

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