Waltz with Bashir DVD Review - www.impulsegamer.com -

Feature 8.5
Video 8.5
Audio 8.0
Special Features 2.0
Total 8.5
Distributor: Madman
Running Time: 90 minutes
Classification: MA15+
Reviewer:
Jamie Kirk

8.5


Waltz with Bashir

Waltz with Bashir is an Israeli documentary feature recalling writer and director Ari Folmanís experience of the 1982 Lebanon war. The war led to the notorious massacres in Sabra and Shatila where many innocent civilians lost their lives at the hands of Lebanese militia. While conversing with a friend who is having nightmares about his experiences, Folman is shocked to discover he cannot remember a thing from that period. Later that night Folman has his first flashback to the war, yet he isnít sure if it is a memory or fiction. From there Folman travels to meet other people he believes can help him. These include his fellow servicemen, a journalist who covered the war, and a psychologist. It is through these people that Folman believes he can piece together his role in this dark period.

The film is entirely animated, save for the last few minutes, and looks wonderful. The technique is similar to rotoscoping, which gives the film a look of stylised realism. The dark tones used in the animation perfectly suit the subject matter as well, which is rather horrifying. The use of animation also means that the film captures things that a regular documentary could not have. Footage of the war based on peopleís memories is beautifully, yet hauntingly captured here. Peopleís nightmares and thoughts are also captured and interpreted by Folman, instead of just talking head segments.

The film deals with tragic subject matter and handles it well. One does not need to be familiar with the Lebanon war to watch the film, as it tackles it from a more personal angle than a traditional documentary on the war. By using Folman as an anchor to these events, we are given very personal recollections from people that served together during the war. The subjects of the documentary are not interrogated in a journalistic fashion. They are having an intimate chat with Folman recalling their own experiences.

The event it all led up to, the massacre, is something that is a deep shame for all involved and it shows during these conversations with Folmanís fellow soldiers. This often makes the film itself hard to watch. It is an occasionally punishing feature, and offers little in the way of light hearted fun. This is not a war movie showing the glory of battle or the heroes, as it is never that simple. Instead the battle scenes in Waltz with Bashir are short and brutal, much like real life warfare.

The special features include a short yet informative interview with Ari Folman, taken from At the Movies, a theatrical trailer, and some trailers for other Madman films. The selection is fairly light, yet this is not the sort of film to include fluff featurettes about itís creation.

Waltz with Bashir is a traumatic film. It offers no easy answers, it just shows how a small group of men grapple with their responsibility in a genocide. The film shows the needless casualties and human errors that led to the catastrophic events. The subject matter is incredibly interesting yet horrifying, but its presentation of the events is mesmerizing. The film will keep the viewer entranced for its duration, and will have you thinking for many hours more. Waltz with Bashir comes highly recommended, but it is not easily digested, and does not lend itself to repeat viewings. I suppose in this respect Ari Folman has succeeded with his anti war message.






 
 



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