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Le Salon des Internautes
home of the perpetually doubtful and those that are sure of their ground
Long time no film review 
12th-Jul-2008 01:46 pm [pop-corn/choc-ice/tv dinner]

Waltz with Bashir is the film you must see. It was praised in Cannes- but didn't get any prize- and it deserves it. It's really original for it is a mix of animated film and documentary. Animated documentary, some would say...Not quite. There's fiction in the film too, the animation allowing to explore the subconscious of the director. 
You may know that the film is about young Isreali guys that went to the Lebanon war during their military service and were there when the Sabra and Chatila massacre occured in 1982. Ari Folman who wrote and directed the film, was one of them. This film isn't about the Palestinian cause or the Lebanese mess. Of course it shows how Beirut was destroyed, the horror of the war and its collateral damages and it deals with the Christian Falangists' crimes against humanity in Sabra and Chatila camps; it doesn't shy away from Tsahal's responsabilty (especially Ariel Sharon's) in those crimes; and yes it makes a universal statement about war, its absurdity and the damages it causes to everyone and everything, but above all it is a film about memory, the way it works, about war-induced individual trauma, about folk memory and its national burden in Israel (because the shoah is always there in the subconscious), and about involuntary repression. 

The animation gives Folman a lot of freedom to work on the psychoanalytical side of the film, hence dreamy sequences.

Everything starts as one day, about 20 years after the war, a friend of Ari tells him a recurring that has been haunting him. That dream triggers another recurring dream into Folman himself, who from there tries to understand why he forgot everything about his war time, especially the Sabra and Chatila events. Was he really there? What did he do? He tries to re-build his failing memory by interviewing his old army friends; thus through the others' testimony he dives in and looks for the truth about himself, using their own memories to seek and unfold his.

The project is interesting and the result is really well done, mixing documentary-style interviews, poetic hallucinosis, discussions that turn into analysis sessions and finally the actual elusive memories that come out one by one like bubbles blowing at the surface.

The film has a strange macabre charm but is always tasteful and formally refined. The form perfectly suits the content since the film deals with the way we can distance ourselves from unbearable events...until there's no more escape.

The teaser trailer 

The official Isreali trailer
Vermeer, woman in yellow
Le Salon des Internautes: home of the perpetually doubtful and those that are sure of their ground.