Arts in New York City: Baruch College, Fall 2008, Professor Roslyn Bernstein
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Waltzing With Bashir

Ari Folman as himself

Ari Folman as himself

“Memory is the most subjective thing in the world, I realize that memoryis alive”. Filmmaker Ari Folman reflected, meditatively leaning his chin on an open right palm, during a talkback on his unique animated documentary “Waltz with Bashir”.
It is the fantastical quality of his memories of the Lebanese War and his own personal guilt of his participation that led him to believe animation was the only channel that would do his memory justice. The animation, done by hand, focuses more on facial contours and highlights, in an attempt at realism. The seemingly simplistic, lines that make up his furrowed brow and shadows under his eyes, are still accurate enough to translate self-torture and a guilty conscience.
Apart from being a genre all itself, “Waltz with Bashir” is a personal reflection of an Israeli soldier who believes that a “memory repressed is a memory conserved”. In this case the memory would be the blind massacre of innocent Palestinians, during the Lebanon War by vindictive Bashir supporters. The Christians were enraged that their leader Bashir was murdered and they took it out on the refugee camps where people that were living there for years. Bullets and blood emitted from all directions and this destruction underwent a transition to actual film footage. Women, drifted across the screen screeching, flailing, pulling their hair, all in an open supplication for an answer to the cause of the destruction of their homes and families. This shows his acknowledgement that animation cannot fully invoke pathos as strongly as actual camera footage.
The use of animation as a format is not as questionable as some aspects of the film. According to Vincent Li, a fellow concerned viewer, ” The sex scene didn’t work”. Truthfully, many audience members where disconcerted by the crudeness of the event, that lacked cohesiveness with the rest of the scenes of war and murdered civilians. However, Folman’s inclusion of it deliberately confused the audience and subconsciously caused them to experience the confusion and surrealism he himself must have felt.
“Waltz with Bashir” is not a film that should be considered only because of the virtue of its animation but also of its thematic content. There is no specific format for war and whatever outcome there is, the results and the loss of life are atrocious enough to want to be forgotten. Folman chooses to reverse this process through the seemingly innocent process of animation and that is what makes this film memorable.

1 comment

1 William { 03.08.09 at 5:36 pm }

The following comment from the website listed, perplexed me. Seems Ari Folman ducked this question whether the Israeli military had contact with the ‘Christian’ group prior to carrying out the massacre? Moment of truth ‘Waltzing’ did not include an important item. Puzzling!
Seems that this fact had been established. The Paleastinians had attempted to have Sharon brought before the World Court – but court would not hear the case.

Am I missing something?
“What are your feelings about the Sabra and Shatila massacre today?
The same as I’ve always felt: it’s the worst thing that humankind can do to each other. One thing for sure is that the Christian Phalangist militiamen were fully responsible for the massacre. The Israeli soldiers had nothing to do with it. As for the Israeli government, only they know the extent of their responsibility. Only they know if they were informed or not in advance about the oncoming violent revenge.”