White Balloon

Daily Journal of Mahaan, an Iranian-American student residing in USA.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Film: Waltz with Bashir

Israel is probably the most paradoxical nation. From one side a country with complicated history that its entire formation is controversial, had defied all sorts of UN's resolutions and international norms against Palestinians and its neighbors, etc. The other side is an extremely democratic society that is obsessed to provide the best service to its citizens and thoroughly questioning its own actions, even better than its enemies.

Waltz with Bashir is a strong documentary-animation about the first Lebanon war when Israel went after Palestinian militia and occupied Southern Lebanon for 16 years. The film benefits from an impressive animation style. The medium helps the director to go beyond documentary and add drama to the plot. The narration is done through animation interviews with several Israeli reserves who served in the war and tell their memories... Further down, each narration is supported by an animated visualization of the narrated events. The film dig into the psychological effects of the war on soldiers. One bright moment is visualization of the story of soldier who had break down when he sees a massacre of horses in Lebanon. He had tried to look at whatever that he sees from a camera point of view. That enabled him to survive and ignore all the bloodshed that he was creating and was observing. But suddenly there is a moment that his camera style vision find totally
unexpected: the massacre of horses. In that moment he realizes the cruelty of what he's working and has a break down.

The height of the movie comes towards the end when the events leading to the Sabra & Shatila massacre are shown. This is the famous massacre of over 800 Palestinians by the Lebanese Phalangist militia under the cover of Israeli forces (commanded by Ariel Sharon). The picture and interviews are really strong. Right at the end the animation is dissolved into the real picture of the post-massacre moorings. That's where you get a freezing sweat

When the film ends, it is difficult to stand up and walk. Most people (including many Israeli/Jewish audience are shocked. You keep wondering what's Israel really? It's both a country that produces such strong criticism of itself and chooses this as their best movie of the year. It's also the country who not only caused this massacre, but also reelected its architect (Sharon) to the top office. What is this paradox? What does an Israeli kid inherit from her country when she walks into life? It's so difficult to be an enlightened Israeli in such paradox. I admire those who fight for it!
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