Vals Im Bashir
Running Time: 90 minutes
US Certificate: R UK Certificate: 18
Country: Australia, Belgium, Switzerland, Germany, Finland, France, Israel, United States
There are many gritty and worthy war movies out there but not many that really stick in your mind as we become desensitized to the enormity of what is taking place on screen and end up actually feeling and remembering nothing. The first time I saw the beach assault scene in Saving Private Ryan I was moved but can I remember many moments in Saints and Soldiers, Stalingrad, The 9th Company or even the second half of Full Metal Jacket – not really. In contrast, the Israeli animated movie Waltz with Bashir really makes an impression because the director made a very daring move.
Ari (Folman) is a veteran of the Israeli-Lebanon War of the early Eighties who can’t remember anything of his time in the conflict. Tormented by haunting dreams Ari visits his friends and fellow soldiers to find out the truth of what happened. The recollections start of in a feelgood manner but slowly he uncovers the events which lead up to the horrific massacre to which he was a witness.
Waltz with Bashir is not a war film in the classic mould but an animated documentary recounting director Ari Folman’s experiences of an often brutal war. There are the usual staples of a documentary, like talking heads and interviews as well as re-enactments, except everything is told with animation. The animation looks fantastic and is made up of a mixture of classic and 3D styles to produce something that feels both cutting edge and timeless. Add to this the atmospheric and eclectic soundtrack and you have a very stylish, very stand-out film that has a feel that is just right.
It’s not style without substance though. The pacing and handling of the disturbing revelations are expertly executed and the flashbacks are perfectly mixed in with Ari’s contemporary investigation with the dialogue – even in the fictitious conversations – always feel completely genuine and never out of place. Some scenes may feel a bit lucid and obscure but this cannot take away from the magnificence of this brave effort.
It's Got: Cutting edge and distinctive animation, an atmospheric soundtrack, a moving story
It Needs: To placed up there with the other classic war movies
DVD Extras A nice solid collection that includes a Directors commentary covering mainly the technical side of the film, a Q&A session with Ari Folman, a making of featurette called "Surreal Soldiers: Making Waltz With Bashir" and another small featurette concentrating on the animation DVD Extras Rating: 7/10
Ari Folman has definitely created one of the best, most harrowing and memorable ever movies about war. The decision to use a mixture of animation styles was an inspiration and sets it aside from the rest.