Arts in New York City: Baruch College, Fall 2008, Professor Roslyn Bernstein
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Waltz with Bashir: Animation of War

Upon entering the theater to see Waltz with Bashir, I was very unsure as to what I should expect. I knew that it was an animated film but not much more than that. As the lights went dim and the first scene began the audience is thrust into a state of terror as a pack of rabid dogs tear across the screen. This sudden entrance into a particular scene is typical of this movie as it chronicles a man’s search for his lost memories regarding the war in Lebanon that he was involved in. The story is told in a somewhat abstract fashion as it continuously jumps from the narrator’s life as an older man to his memories from the war as a young soldier. This style of filming can lead to some confusion as to what location the plot is currently in. It can be very erratic at times and there are a large number of various characters. I felt that the story kept introducing new characters so quickly, that there was not enough time to properly develop them. This leads to the story not being a character driven one. The story is driven by the overall message of the movie, which was not immediately apparent until the narrator gave details about his experience in the war. The message of the film is definitely capable of moving the story along but the storytelling was too awkward.

            There was however, a lot to like in the way of how the film was presented. The use of animation to tell this story is one that I would agree with. There was so much in the way of special effects and flashbacks, that it would have been extremely tough to use live actors. Animation enables things to be done in the movie, which would not have had the same effect if produced through any other means. The music gives the performance a definite boost as it really brings the action to a fever pitch at times. The director also throws in an unexpected ending, which shows real life footage of the real-life story being told. This was a particularly powerful moment as it brings to the forefront what this movie was really about. There is a strong message to the film regarding the horrors of war and the how it causes suffering to all involved.

            Overall, Waltz with Bashir was an intriguing film but it was plagued with confusion. I had trouble knowing exactly where the character was supposed to be or what significance does the character that he is currently speaking to have. For those of you who do not mind sudden, unexplainable twists and multiple characters with varying levels of significance, or those of you who are interested only in excellent animation and a spell-binding score, then this is the movie for you. Otherwise, this movie does not deliver. It has its good qualities but they do not do enough to eclipse its flaws. I am genuinely frustrated by the awkward style of telling of the story because Waltz with Bashir does have a message to give to its audience, and it is one that should be taken seriously.