Waltz with Bashir (Ari Folman) 2008

Waltz with Bashir follows Ari who meets with a friend who tells him about a dream where he is chased by 26 dogs (the approximate number of dogs he kills during the war).  This makes Ari realize he has no memories of his time in the 1982 Lebanon War and subsequent massacre and he proceeds to meet with old squad mates to bring his memories back.

The animation in this movie is both a blessing and a little curse at the same time.  Fiscally it is rather brilliant.  The movie only cost $1.5 million to make and I can tell it would have cost a hell of a lot more to make a live action war movie with hundreds of actors, special effects, and war ravaged sets.  The story also has a kind of dream like state which suits the wonderful animation.  Now with that I couldn’t help but feel that the animation hurt the emotional impact of the gruesome events that happen.  One of the psychologists that talk in the film talk about one subject who got through most of the war by pretending everything was happening through a camera and that what he was seeing was not really happening in front of him.  I felt the same way with this movie in a way.  When you see these animated humans getting shot and massacred it just lacks the emotional punch it should.  I also feel the director thought the same way as at the end of the movie he shows news footage of the carnage caused by the massacre instead of an animated simulation.  Even he realizes there is no substitute for the real thing.

Also, Folman makes the mistake of thinking I know all about the conflicts between the Jews and the Palestinians of the past 30 years.  I know, I am a dumb American but can you throw me a bone here?  They kind explain who Bashir is, but I still don’t know how he figures into anything.  I just need a liiiiiiitle historical context okay?

Despite all that I still enjoyed the movie.  I don’t need to know all about the Lebannon War to understand the message of the horrors of war and the loss of innocence and Folman does weave an intricate and surreal story.  This wasn’t incredibly groundbreaking, but it does separate itself from from the pack to be an overall very good movie.  Not great, but good.

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