Waltz With Bashir - DVD Review

'Waltz With Bashir isn't so much a film as a living breathing painting done on the psychiatrist's couch'

I started a discussion about Waltz With Bashir in my office one morning. It started like this; 'I saw a film last night'. And ended like this; 'it was an animated documentary in Hebrew and German dealing with the invasion of Lebanon in 1982'.

So sure, the film's a tough sell and I must admit to a feeling of trepidation when I finally got round to watching it, the DVD having been sat on my shelf for a number of days. Surely a film so well regarded by critics must have something wrong with it? It can't be that good? Can it?

Yes, is the short answer. Yes it damn well can.

There is a slight problem with WWB and I'll deal with that first. The problem is it's a documentary where the protagonist and film maker (Ari Folman) can't remember the events that occurred. Suffering from what over here would be labelled post-traumatic stress, Folman has a single mythical image in his head of the night the invasion of Lebanon really kicked off and a sector of the Israeli forces murdered a number of Palestinians in a genocide at the refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila. As the narrative moves through, Folman remembers more and more aided by colleagues and reporters and other fighters who were around at the time, each giving their own, highly coloured and over twenty-year old accounts of the events.

But wait a minute. Isn't it a bit of a problem that a documentary be made up of crummily remembered stories and pieced together and told by a man who can't remember anything? Of course it is and Folman knows it. That's why it's animated.

Using a beautiful combination of old-style hand-drawn, flash and 3D animation, Folman uses the animation to fold in and out of 'reality', always questioning what he is remembering and what we are seeing. There's a beautiful central narrative as Folman the film maker visits old friends to find out where he was at the time and this all runs back in to itself as we see a recognisable young Folman, marching forwards with his troops.

Waltz With Bashir isn't so much a film as a living breathing painting done on the psychiatrist's couch. It's intensely personal but deals with events terrible in their disgusting universalness. By the time Folman makes a devastating but inevitable film makers decision in the final moments he's won the battle for our hearts to such a degree that he can do no wrong.

Beautiful, moving with one of the best scores and soundtracks I've ever noticed in a film, Waltz With Bashir overcomes it's only hurdle with one bound and doesn't look back until it's brought you to tears.

Look Further...

'a very powerful documentary about a terrifying and ever-present conflict as well as the mental after-effects of battle' - Film Forager, 4/5

1 comment:

  1. Such a well done movie. Combining animation with documentary in that modern (I forget the name of it) technique. It's so original, and visually stimulating. How this lost last year is just mind boggling (granted I've not seen but a couple of the other contenders).