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Waltz With Bashir * Ari Folman (2008)

Last summer we planned to go to the Fantasy Film Fest in Dortmund and the day we had in mind had “Waltz With Bashir”. I watched the trailer and decided that this was one of the films that I wanted to see. In the end, we did not go to Dortmund so I had to wait until another possibility to see the film. After a couple of months of silence, this title is suddenly all over the media. It played on one of the larger Dutch film festivals (Vlissingen if I am correct) and opened the animation festival last week. By now, it also plays in cinemas and for some reason the local arthouse has it listed for as much as five times a day! At least I have been able to see it on the big screen!
As you probably heard “Waltz With Bashir” is a documentary made by an Israelian soldier who fought in the Lebanon war when he was still young. Trying to fill in the blanks in his memory, he tries to find fellow soldiers of the period. Instead of making a dry documentary, Folman has made a great-looking animation. The high-contrast drawings in black and white/yellow and ‘woody’ characters make a slightly surreal atmosphere. The film goes from current events to flashbacks and what is very well done (especially caused by the animations) is that these flashbacks are rather distant, just as the people in the film see the events. While Ron’s memories are reconstructed, the flashbacks become more realistic. Storywise, I think this film is more meant for Israelis than for us Westerners (there are plenty of similar stories that we could make a film of), but the way the film is made is magnificent. The director and his team really managed to set the right atmosphere with the animations and the great soundtrack and the psychological/therapeuthic pursuit of the main character tells us a lot about or own constitution. “Waltz with Bashir” is surely not a pleasent watch, but a good watch and a great film nonetheless.

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