Thanks to an English teacher in my school who gave me her tickets, I was able to see this lil' gem at an art institute near me. Waltz With Bashir exceeded my expectations, or at least the little I had since I knew little about the movie or the events that unfold through out it. Trust me: Waltz is an unmissable masterpiece that should not go missed by any film or history enthusiast. With powerful dialogue and an engaging story, Israeli film maker Ari Folman takes his audience on a journey of his own self discovery while visiting fellow veterans of the 1982 Invasion of Lebanon to reconstruct his fractured memory.
Folman's journey takes us on a wild and thought-provoking experience that gives the viewer a clear idea of the anguish that not only he felt, but his fellow soldiers felt as well as they witnessed massacres unfold around them. Using a unique animated visual style, Folman is able to tell a documentary that involves visions, hallucinations and flashbacks that he would not have been able to achieve in live-action. Along the way, both Folman, his colleagues, and we experience the shocking effects of war. Whether it be dreams of a beautiful and giant nude women taking you in her arms like a baby coming into the world for the first time, or the actual gunning down of a young boy with an RPG, or a man "waltzing with Bashir" as he endlessly fires bullets in all directions in a scene that gives the movie's title its meaning, Folman's story is not one to be missed, for even when it's animated, it still feels real as it can get. The violence is raw, the sex is graphic, and the overall experience is one to behold, even if you are not familiar with the events surrounding the film. Folman takes time to develop his story, even with a 90 minute run-time, which actually feels like over 2 hours...but it is damn good.
The journey begins with an old friend telling Folman about a recurring dream he's been having, which triggers a vision of awkward silence. This prompts Folman to take his troubles to the people he served with to piece his memory back together. Just when you think the movie will end, Folman is visiting another person or even someone we've already met. However, each flashback or dream offers an importance and tells its own story. The movie flows at a relatively nice pace. These are good thing because you won't want this movie to end, even after you witness the horrific moments in the films final scene, a scene that suddenly turns to real life footage of families screaming for what is assumed to be their loved ones among the rubble around them. The violence felt real throughout the whole movie, and is only topped by real images of the slaughtered and a final image of a girl's head, topped with curly hair, sticking out of the ruins. Saying it's controversial is giving it a compliment.
Ari Folman's Waltz With Bashir is a foreign film. A a documentary. A cartoon. A historical film. A drama. A war picture. And at points even a comedy to ease tension. It is trippy and weird. It is ironic in its presentation. It can be uncomfortable. It offers more than a lot of other movies. In a word: masterful.
Agent Vis's Verdict:
*5 stars-Masterful: 5 star films should not be missed by any film enthusiast. They exceed expectations and accomplish what others can't* 4.5-Outstanding 4-Impressive 3.5-Passable 3-Disappointing 2.5-Mediocre 2-Below Average 1.5-Bad 1-Awful .5-Garbage 0-Unwatchable