Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Waltz with Bashir

dir Ari Folman

The experience of seeing this film certainly affected my impression of it. This was my first foray into German subtitles, the film's original language being Hebrew. I am bound to have missed a few things, but was surprisingly successful with the Untertiteln.

It is always a difficult proposition to make something beautiful about something ugly and Ari Folman's film is quite astonishing in its use of magical images contrasted with the grim subject matter: his own complicity in the massacre of civilians during the Israeli occupation of Lebanon in 1982.

A talking-head documentary on the subject would have a limited audience but Folman has made a number of bold decisions in making his film: the animation allows for all kinds of surreal and dreamy experiences to come to life, while the use of real ex-soldiers recounting their experiences gives the power of truth to the film.

Folman's search to recapture his memory becomes an extended inquiry into Israel's conduct in the country and his own participation, which he had "forgotten" since that time. Its recent Golden Globe win should give the film extra exposure, which is well merited as its anti-war message is timely.

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