By Meera
Waltz with Bashir, Waltz with Bashir


Waltz with Bashir is not your typical war film. Nothing can be typical when it comes to an Israeli film that deals with the Lebanon war directed by a man born to Holocaust survivors. To top it off, this is a full length animation flick that won accolades ranging from The Golden Globe to The Ophir. Today when the world is engulfed in violence, a movie that details the horrors of war is all the more relevant.

Waltz with Bashir opens up with a dog chase. Menacing, growling, angry dogs give a good chase and we realize that it is a dream. A dream of a war veteran, an Israeli war veteran, whose job in the Lebanon war was to shoot all the stray dogs because their barking signaled the Israelis' presence. He meets his friend and as they relay the dream, his friend, Folman (the movie’s protagonist) realizes that he has no recollection of the war itself. No dreams, nightmares or guilt trips. After they depart Folman suffers his first vision. He regroups with his army friends and tries to outline his role in the war. The movie then plays out as a puzzle whose missing pieces are moments of terrible brutality and massacre. The movie ends with animation dissolving into actual life.

Ari Folman, the director, who is also the center piece in the movie, served in the Israeli defense forces. His parents had been interned at Auschwitz. Born to survivors yet forced to wage a war in his teens, Folman narrates the futility of war. It is useless, no doubt. But his movie pierces the often forgotten consequences of war. The civilians caught in the cross fire, the soldiers abiding command and fighting their own conscience, power and paranoia. In the end, does anybody ever win?

The movie is free from propaganda; it does not dwell in the triviality of right and wrong. But as the scenes amble along, we cannot help but wonder if the director is trying to question our courage. The movie revolves around the Sabra and Shatila massacre where innocent Palestinian civilians are shot by Christian Phalangist militia enabled by Israeli forces. Although it does not assign blame it conveys the useless order of command. People higher up make decisions without really getting their feet dirty.

Waltz with Bashir is a very short film but one that stays with you forever. It is a history lesson, a combat movie and a ripping riddle all folded into one. In the end you are left with only one question. Why do we fight? Why do we hate our fellow humans? And only one answer – This is no way to live.

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