The Dreams and Nightmares of Soldiers (Waltz with Bashir reviewed)


Waltz with Bashir (Israel/Germany/France/USA/Finland/Switzerland/Belgium/Australia, 2008)

Seen: Monday, 13th April 2009 (cinema)
Runtime: 90′
Director: Ari Folman
Production House: Bridgit Folman Film Gang, Les Films d'Ici, Razor Film Produktion GmbH
Plot: An animated documentary that tries to piece together a memory from the Israeli-Lebanese war in 1982. Where was Ari Folman during the Sabra and Shatila massacre and what was he doing? The only thing he remembers from his time in the war is an image from the night of the massacre. Yet that’s the one memory he doesn’t seem to be able to piece together with the help of the friends he served with.


Impressions In Short
Very interesting and unusual… no wonder there was so much buzz about this.

More About the Film
I guess it’s worth explaining what “animated documentary” means exactly as I certainly haven’t seen one before and I doubt that many people have… As far as I could make out, most of the voices in the film are documentary interviews with the real-life friends of Ari Folman. It’s just that they were represented visually in the film as animated characters. Two of them did not to want to record their voices for the film, so those were dubbed and acted. One of the real friends (the psychologist) was the real voice of the person, but it sounded to me like they staged it rather than recorded an interview.
A lot of the film deals with strange visions, dreams and memories which aren’t necessarily accurate representations of what happened. Every character in the film deals with the memories of the war in their own way. Animation helped in illustrating this a great deal. It worked so much better this way than if they had tried to stage the memories with actors somehow or shown documentary footage or whatever. If the film had been made more conventionally, it would have become very heavy. And in a way this dreamy world of animation seemed the most honest way to do it - for all of them the reality of the war was a bit blurred, even though some seemed to remember it much more clearly than others.
It was amazing how absurd a lot of the situations they told were and yet these sorts of things really do happen in war.


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