Waltz With Bashir (Folman, 2008)


Fragmented memory defines Waltz With Bashir, Ari Folman’s surreal and horrifying remembrance of his role in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camp massacres during the 1982 war between Israel and Lebanon. Through the striking possibilities of Animation, Folman explores the many versions of trauma, mixing interviews with fellow soldiers and a reporter with hypnotic and often brutal flashbacks of the multiple front conflict, all in a desperate attempt to clarify the past. Yet the film is not about knowing the guilt of inaction, or recognizing that these atrocities occurred, but dealing with the constant and natural repression of such events from our mind. Many critics have noted the glaring timeliness of the film in the light of the current Israeli occupation of the Gaza Strip, and the final images of broken children buried under rubble certainly calls to mind these connections. That the film merely scratches the surface of these events and the characters involved is a testament to its urgency, but it also leaves many questions unanswered. Like it’s tormented hero, Waltz With Bashir will be looking for closure forever, just another cost of experiencing the terrors of war and living to tell about it. But while the Palestinian innocents continue to suffter, at least Folman has a platform to grieve.

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