Waltz With Bashir
Drawing on his own experiences as an Israeli soldier in the 1982 Lebanon War, Ari Folman employs animation to blistering effect.
It opens with a pack of wild dogs racing along the streets of Tel Aviv, to the accompaniment of Max Richter’s driving score, until they come to a stop at the base of Folman’s friend Boaz’s apartment tower. The man sees this recurring dream as the subconscious recollection of the creatures he was forced to kill during raids into villages in Lebanon, to ensure they didn’t alert the locals. It’s one of the many memories Folman’s friends recall as they look back on the conflict, while the filmmaker himself attempts to address his partial amnesia over what took place. As the narrative progresses, Folman delves deeper into the day-to-day experiences of the soldiers, questioning the motives behind the conflict and how the young members of the Israeli Defence Force were used as pawns in what he sees as an unjust war.
Rather than distance us from what took place, Folman’s decision to animate the drama lifts it out of the trappings of the anti-war film, producing something at once more troubling and deeply affecting, right up to the film’s shattering final image. It’s an extraordinary achievement.