It’s a disturbing irony that although we all admit that wars are awful, horrible and appalling, we love watching war movies. And the more awful, horrible and appalling the war is, the more fascinating a movie made around that war seems to be.
Although war movies are superficially aimed at inspiring patriotism or preaching the all-important lesson of world peace, war films are really just made for the same reason for which ‘the devil once sold his soul to Jack Bauer’, for which ‘death once had a near-Chuck Norris experience’ and for which ‘Rajniknath makes onions cry’ – we get a perverse, primal pleasure in watching men kill other men. …Okay, at least ‘I’ do.
But then, every once a while, there’s a movie that makes you want to shut yourself in your bedroom and hide under the bed, frightened that the ghosts of war movie past will haunt you for a long, long time. Michael Bay’s Pearl Harbour was the first movie that had this effect on me – I usually only cry on Valentines Day as much as I cried when Josh Hartnett died in that movie.
But Waltz With Bashir is no Pearl Harbour (thankfully). It’s a stark, profound and harrowing feature-length documentary that uses surreal animation to firmly drive home the point that ‘only the dead see the end of war’.
Written and directed by Israel’s Ari Folman, the documentary features Folman, as he tries to uncover the truth about what happened 25 years ago in the 1982 Lebanon War, when he was an infantry soldier in the Israel Defence Forces. Folman has been having nightmares about the war but has somehow repressed his memories of it and can’t remember what really happened.
In the one-and-a-half-hours that follow, with the help of interviews with his old friends and fellow ex-soldiers, Folman recreates the events that led up to the horrific Sabra and Shatila Massacre at Beirut, through classical music, comic illustration graphics and a gritty screenplay, that unfolds like a realistic dream… rather, nightmare.
Waltz With Bashir is a must-watch movie experience not because it looks at the obvious horrors of war through the eyes of a 19-year-old who’s not sure if he’s the victim or the victimizer – but because of the disconcerting fantasy world Folman constructs, which makes you believe YOU are that 19-year-old.
Starring: Ari Folman, Ron Ben-Yishai, Ronny Dayag
Written By: Ari Folman
Directed By: Ari Folman
Note: This recommendation first appeared in MTV Noise Factory, June 2011 issue
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