Arts in New York City: Baruch College, Fall 2008, Professor Roslyn Bernstein
Random header image... Refresh for more!



Director Ari Folman described his work as applicable to the soldiers of any war. True to this description, Waltz with Bashir, while avoiding mediocrity through its unique art style and articulate direction, fails to ever accomplish anything previous war movies have not.
Dubbed an animated documentary, Waltz with Bashir speaks of Ari Folman’s struggle in trying to understand a recurring dream of his. The struggle leads him to meet with psychiatrists, reporters, and fellow war veterans of the 1982 Lebanon War. The fact that this movie focuses so much on the psyche of war veterans means that it is bound to tread territory that has already been touched upon in recent years. The feelings of old men tired of war, the emotions of soldiers in battle, and the subtle humor behind the grimness have all been the subject of many artworks of our time and anything similar at this point seems redundant.
Despite this, however, the film still manages to feel fresh due to superior direction and aesthetic effects. The fact that this movie so strongly revolves around dream sequences means that it could have only been done through animation or computer generated imagery, the latter of which, if done convincingly, is drastically more expensive. Instead of rotoscoping (a technique where animation is achieved through tracing over live action footage), however, this movie was hand-drawn which, while allowing artists greater freedom, also makes character models move without the fluidity of actual motion. This is a problem prevalent in Waltz with Bashir, where characters, while detailed in slides, are rigid in motion. The rest of the movie, however, is visually stunning. The decrepit battlefields, the blazing balls of fire raining from the sky, and the salivating hounds are just some fine examples of the level of detail that went into each and every frame. Similarly, the color schemes, dark yet teasingly leaving specks of light lingering throughout, help to further the feelings of gauntness and perpetual waiting appropriate for times of war.
The direction of the film, too, is excellent and brings to life a relatively unoriginal concept. The dreams, especially Folman’s, are repeated throughout the movie and create an air of surrealism uncommon in films with such a subject. While this does make it more difficult to consider the film a documentary, it clearly makes it more cinematic. The pacing is also well done, with serious dreams and war sequences supplemented by absurd jokes, such as a comical break up or an explicit sex scene. The sound, consisting of battle effects and a translated war classic, is generic but appropriate. The best directorial choice, however, is the transition to live footage at the end, lending that seriousness and believability that a documentary demands.
Ultimately, Waltz with Bashir stands more as a testament to Folman’s directorial skill and less to the pains of his experiences. A passable movie saved only by its direction and design, this is one worth watching, but not re-watching.