Oct 17, 2010

Waltz with Bashir

In 2008, during a hot summer of Kabul, while I was wandering around the city of Kabul and trying to raise money in order to rent an internet café to teach blogging and online journalism to the students and journalists who were interested in doing citizen journalism, I approached a young documentary filmmaker who randomly spoke to me about the Oscar Award. He mentioned the movie ‘Waltz with Bashir” which was nominated for that award, but because I lived in secluded cities of Afghanistan that are mostly disconnected from the world, you would never hope you watch the most recent movies. Therefore, I never expected to watch “Waltz with Bashir” until I was assigned to write about it for my class.

The movie “Waltz with Bashir” is an Israeli animated documentary written and directed by Ari Folman. Folman served in the Israeli army and has been an infantry soldier. He depicts his memories of nightmares of two refugee camps: Sabra and Shatila. At a time when the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) occupied Beirut and blockaded the refugee camps, the allied Lebanese forces, enraged by the murder of their leader, entered the refugee camps and overnight more than 800 people were massacred.

Folman put himself aside and looks at this incident as a solider who later said that we were all pawns in internal political disputes that resulted in the massacre of hundreds.
“Waltz with Bashir” is a depiction of horror, insanity and pouring indignation. The film starts with a group of rabid dogs running towards a checkpoint and immediately cut into a dialogue where a solider tries to recall his lost memories from 20 years ago from the Lebanese civil war. He finds himself in a tank shooting aimlessly. in the meantime the film shows that the IDF were ruthlessly cruising the city of Beirut, moving from small alleys and driving the tank over cars and destroying the walls to find a way out. The story is being told by his friend whose tank hits a mine and as all the soldiers flee they are gunned down leaving one survivor. He swam and finally reached an outpost which belonged to his regiment.

Folman afraid of dying, he recalls his girlfriend and how hard it would be for his girlfriend to see his dead body back in Israel. He deploys to Beirut and after getting off a plane, he walks through a terminal and feels he should be sent on a vacation rather than to war. While he rejoins his unit, suddenly he and his fellows are targeted from the buildings nearby by enemy fithers.

Folman tries to remember his lost memories; he hallucinates on the beach that he drowns while his fellow friends left him. Folman tells the story through different characters; cameraman, commander, officer and major of military units. Folman shows that the Christian Phalangists take women and children out of their houses and drove them to a site of murder. The Israeli soldiers realize what will happen to them but are reluctant to prevent the massacre.

Finally, the film ends with actual footage of men, women and children who are brutally massacred by Christian Phalangists. “Waltz with Bashir” is a powerful film that narrates the story of Sabra and Shatila and could only be made possible though such an animated movie. “Waltz with Bashir” is mixed of horror and satire that depicts the most violent pictures with rock music, soldier’s dream of naked women, memories from living in pleasure at the beach and surrealistic pictures and the dreams in amidst of battle. “Waltz with Bashir” shakes up the viewers and shows the outrageous, shocking and graceless side of human nature.


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