Waltz With Bashir (A film by Ari Folman, 2008, 90 min)

ISRAEL’S OWN APOCALYPSE NOW

Peter Bradshaw @ The Guardian: “Has Israel made a mass, semi-conscious decision to forget about the Sabra and Chatila massacres of the 1982 Lebanese war, in which Israeli forces allowed Christian Phalangist militia into Palestinian refugee camps to slaughter civilians? This extraordinary animated documentary by Israeli film-maker Ari Folman – a kind of fictionalised docu-autobiography – suggests that Israelis have indeed forgotten, in a kind of huge, willed amnesia. But his movie makes an acid-trip down memory lane, and Folman might have created his generation’s very own Apocalypse Now.

Like that movie, it is open to the objection that the overdog’s pain takes precedence over that of the oppressed, but this is a fascinating and often electrifying film in which Folman submits to his very own ‘Nam flashback: a memory of how the Israel defence forces, of which he was a part, effectively presided over mass murder.

Over the past quarter-century, the massacre’s horror has been absorbed and repressed within the Israeli mind, Folman suggests, but only partly. The very concept of Israel’s partial or indirect guilt, established by the government’s own Kahan commission, and therefore a guilt which Israel can concede without admitting to direct culpability, makes it a uniquely painful and potent subject. It’s a reproach drifting just beneath the surface of memory and liable to break cover at any time.

Vivid and horrifying events leading up to the massacres are disinterred by the movie’s quasi-fictional “reconstructive” procedure, somewhere between oral history and psychoanalysis. The film uses hyperreal rotoscope-animation techniques, similar to those made famous by Bob Sabiston and Richard Linklater. Live-action footage on videotape has been digitally converted into a bizarre dreamscape in which reality is resolved into something between two and three dimensions. Planes and surfaces stir and throb with colours harder, sharper, brighter than before. It looks like one long hallucination, and therefore perfect for the trauma of Folman’s recovered memories…” – Keep on reading

Read also the reviews by Roger Ebert, David Edelstein (NY Mag)Electronic Intifada.

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