ואלס עם באשיר‎/Waltz with Bashir

[Screenshot]This one I had to see. As a cultural Jew, I have more than a little interest in Israeli film and Israeli subjects. As an animation buff, I had to see how an animated documentary could hold up. And as a fan of cinematic oddity, I was drawn by its critical acclaim. It lived up to the hype and my expectations. I don’t know much about the Lebanese Civil War, so I was coming into this with no particular context. It’d be interesting to see how someone more culturally grounded in the Lebanese massacre as an element of history would view this: this film seems not to inform about the massacres themselves as to illuminate with individual vignettes, most of which work. It seesaws between the fabulous and the horrific, the reality of battle and the unreal trance of waiting. It captures war as a human experience quite well, and it does so within the constraints of a documentary form: the stories are built from eyewitness accounts.

Arguably, it might be considered more of a docudorama than a documentary: a documentary actually uses primary-source footage, while a docudrama includes re-enactments, and an animated feature is necessarily the latter (the animated scenes of Folman interviewing veterans complicate matters even more, since it’s surely an accurate depiction of Folman and his subjects talking). From a format perspective Waltz is difficult to categorize: if it’s a documentary, then is, for instance, Persepolis also? I’m not averse to that categorization, but it raises interesing questions about its purpose. There’s the danger that animation can be distancing, and I doubt it was Folman’s purpose to try to make the war seem fictional. Perhaps it was meant to explore the space between “unreal” and “imaginary”, and I can roll with this as a noble purpose.

See also: IMDB, Wikipedia.

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About Jake
I'm a mathematics professor at the University of Louisville, and a geek.

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