Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Waltz With Bashir: A Lebanon War Story by Ari Folman and David Polonsky

One of my clients, who happens to teach film studies, highly recommended Waltz with Bashir as one of the best films he has seen in recent years. This is the first animated film to be nominated for Best Foreign Language Film Oscar.

Here is the trailer from Cannes:

Among the most intriguing movies selected for Cannes 2008 official competition, there's the animated documantary by Ari Folman, Waltz with Bashir. The director explores through memories and surreal images, the Israeli Army mission in the first Lebanon War of the early eighties.
Here is an interview with the co-director and co-writer (and subject of the film):

And in this article, Asia Times takes a look at the book that was released at the same time as the movie.
Airport to nowhere
Waltz With Bashir: A Lebanon War Story by Ari Folman and David Polonsky

Introduction by Tom Engelhardt

A pack of ravenous dogs, a nightmare, a visit from a war-haunted friend, this was how film director Ari Folman's period as an Israeli "grunt" in the 1982 invasion of Lebanon first returned to him. As a 19-year-old Israeli soldier, Folman was on duty in Beirut during the notorious massacres in the Palestinian refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila. But when he began to search for his own memories of that war, what he found instead was a puzzling, disturbing blank.

Tentatively setting off in pursuit of those missing memories, horrors buried for almost a quarter of a century, he also launched himself on a path that would lead to his award-winning, Oscar-nominated animated film, Waltz with Bashir, and an accompanying graphic memoir of the same title, developed in tandem with it.

Just a week ago, the animated documentary film was given its first underground screening in Lebanon - not far, in fact, from Hezbollah headquarters in southern Beirut - though the film is officially banned in that country. It has also been screened in Palestinian Ramallah and is reportedly soon to be shown in the Arab Gulf states. It has already won six Israeli Academy Awards, best foreign film at the Golden Globes, and is now nominated for an Oscar as best foreign film.

At this moment, when the Israeli assault on Gaza has ended in catastrophic destruction and death, director Folman's remarkable voyage - he calls it a "bad acid trip" - into the oblivion of war trauma and the horrific recent history of the Middle East is as stunning, moving, and unnerving an experience as anything you'll see this year, or perhaps any year.

A no less remarkable graphic memoir, Waltz with Bashir, was developed in tandem with the film. It will be in your bookstores in a couple of weeks. Not surprisingly, the book and film have some of the impact that the first "graphic novel," Art Spiegelman's MAUS, had when it came out in 1986, and that assessment comes from the fellow - me, to be exact - who published MAUS back then.
Read the whole article.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I second the recommendation. It's a hallucinatory experience that does something I didn't know was possible -- gives you a completely new perspective on the qualitative experience of war.

It's certainly not like any other movie you'll see this year -- and it really sticks with you.