Directed by Ari Folman. June 2008, Israel. Rated R: 90 min.
In 2008’s Oscar-nominated Waltz with Bashir, writer/director Ari Folman addresses the issue of Israel’s early 1980s war with Lebanon in an aesthetically daring documentary. Folman uses a rotoscoping technique similar to that of Richard Linklater’s Waking Life (2001) and A Scanner Darkly (2006) but enhanced with flash animation. As in Linklater’s films, Bashir maximizes the form’s surrealistic effect by exploring the slippery quality of consciousness and memory, especially when under the psychic strain of modern urban warfare.
None of Folman’s friends, however, stored the memory of their Christian allies’—that is, the Lebanese Phalangists—massacre of Palestinian refugees in the prison camps in Sabra and Shatila. Stationed only a few hundred yards away from the carnage, they ought to remember . . . unless their close proximity caused a mental block.
You’ve heard in movies before, and you’ll hear it again: war sucks. But Folman’s masterful presentation of the human mind’s flaws and wonders offers so much more than typical anti-war fare.
And the last scene . . . Let’s just say it spooked the bejesus out of the Boardman’s Art Theatre audience. Everyone just stared as the credits rolled, petrified by the final images.
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