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

“Waltz With Bashir” Shocks All

When I initially sat down in anticipation of “Waltz With Bashir,” I didn’t know what to expect.  My instincts told me that it would be an old-fashioned movie with dated, classical music, making sense of the name of the play.  I was pleasantly surprised to see that I was wrong.  The delivery and style of the movie was truly unique and unlike any other production I have ever seen before. 

The most difficult part of entertainment is capturing the elusive attention of the viewers and maintaining it throughout the production.  “Waltz With Bashir” certainly accomplishes at least part of this challenging task.  The opening scene consisted of a bone-chilling dream that had viewers gasping for air and on the edge of their seats within the first ten minutes of the movie.  The snarling, vicious dogs running through town made viewers cringe and shield their eyes in anticipation of their prey.  Ari Folman’s production dealt with the always-controversial topic of war, which immediately grabbed the attention of viewers.

Folman took a great risk choosing to use animation to create his documentary of the horrors of the 1982 Lebanon war.  Using comic book-like techniques to depict a dreary topic of war and death was unheard of.  From my own observations, there were mixed emotions on Folman’s use of animation.  Some thought it was ingenious, while others felt it took away from the seriousness of the topic.  I agree with the latter of the two.  In my opinion, I believe the movie would have had a greater effect if it were filmed using real actors and scenery.

Although Folman succeeds in obtaining interest and attention early in the movie, I believe he fails to maintain it throughout the entire course of the movie.  Once people adjusted to this film style, the story lost its appeal.  There were even certain scenes I found myself asking, “What does this have to do with anything?”  For example, a nude woman twice the size of an average man magically appears on a boat and takes a military man away with her.  I’m sure there was some significance to that scene, but for the average viewer it only convoluted the plot.

On the other hand, one highlight of this production was the interesting music.  Folman’s use of music was one aspect of the movie that worked very well.  The unpredictable use of the classical waltz showed Ari Folman’s skill as a director and storyteller.  Most people expected the movie to have a scene in a ballroom, but that wasn’t the case.  The misleading title surprised viewers when the waltz was used as a technique to dodge bullets for survival.  Along with music, the ending of the movie both shocked and wowed the audience in a disturbing and enlightening way, much like that of the first time Saving Private Ryan did the first time viewers saw it.  Saving Private Ryan was one of the first movies to show the real, bloody side of the war without holding back, shocking audiences.  This was very similar to what Folman did in “Waltz With Bashir.”  Folman obviously wasn’t afraid to tell the truth about war.

All in all, “Waltz With Bashir” is worth the price on the ticket.  There are both highlights and drawbacks to this movie, but no movie is perfect.  The music, along with the beginning and end of the movie, make up for where the movie lacks.  The animation style is interesting to view, especially with such a serious topic.  Most of the time when people think of animation they imagine Elmer Fudd chasing Bugs Bunny with a shotgun, but people will be shocked when they see this production.