Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Waltz With Bashir

Waltz With Bashir is a disturbing look at the Israeli-Lebanese War. It is told from the point of view of a veteran of the war trying to recount the memories of his days as a young soldier. The main character seems at the beginning to have lost his memories and meets with his old comrades and other soldiers who were involved in the war to reconstruct his memory and figure out if his memory of the massacre at the camps in Beirut is real or not.

This film uses a style of animation that is quite peculiar, not to the extent of A Scanner Darkly but getting there. I think the decision to use this animation was a good one, it gives a versatility which just wouldn’t be possible with live action, and means the film doesn’t have to be about crazy visual effects and stunts, which would ultimately detract from the horrifying message of the film.

It’s an eye-opener, I was born in 1988 and the war was in 1982, so I had no prior knowledge of the war. It shows the complete and utter disorganisation of the armies; 19 year-old un-tested soldiers put in charge of a tank and just firing aimlessly into the night; officers disjointed from the horror of the death and destruction they leave behind, and a complete absence of respect for the enemy’s life and property.

But while the officers showed a complete lack of regard for the people around them, the main character and his comrades show an extraordinary amount of empathy and care for their fellow soldiers and a crushing amount of responsibility for what they did in the war even though they were under the orders of officers and did not fully understand why they were doing what they were doing.

At numerous points in the film I was horrified to the point of endless cringing. The veteran’s old comrades have some fantastic tales, and the artwork brings some beauty to a very ugly point in human history. Some people really dislike seeing films that challenge them, and point out horrors, but I think it is important to see these films, and to challenge ourselves, and to face up to the ugly truths of our past. Even more important is to remember those who needlessly died for the sake of—from what I can tell from the film—religion.

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