Friday, 17 April 2009

No. 102 : Waltz With Bashir

The great 100 ‘W’s list was so sadly neglected that I actually watched a ‘W’ film the other night without making the connection. How the mighty have fallen! In retrospect the fall from grace can be traced to the start of the quality TV schedule and as most of my shows are about to go on their summer hiatuses you can be assured of some reinvigorated ‘W’ action.

The rebirth begins in somewhat downbeat fashion with ‘Waltz With Bashir’ which I had been aware of but was slow to track down due to the grim subject matter and the basic animation seen in the trailers. Of course prejudging is never a good thing and I was pleasantly surprised with the film, which was nominated for the Best Foreign Picture Oscar (lost).

Waltz With Bashir is a drama documentary which sees a middle age man try to make sense of some lucid dreams and to patch up some holes in his memory relating to his time as a teenage soldier in the Israeli army. Although animated almost all the way through the film uses real people and their experiences, with their interviews shown in animated form with their names and positions captioned in both Hebrew and English.

The dreams our man suffers from lead back to his service in Lebanon which took place during the 1982 conflict. He slowly recalls being attacked and being the only survivor of his squad, managing to escape only after swimming out to sea and then back to his own lines. As he delves deeper he realises that he may have been involved in a massacre of hundreds of civilians and wonders if the horrors have been erased from his memory to preserve is sanity.

The film successfully treads the thin line between entertaining and preaching and despite some harrowing sequences there are some fun bits too, not least a hardcore porno featuring a well endowed plumber with a ‘big tool’. The soundtrack is great too with pop hits from the period by the likes of P.I.L and O.M.D. sitting snugly with some evocative classical music.

Despite my reservations I did enjoy the animation which defies it’s basic appearance with some clever 360 degree turns and snappy direction, especially during the titular sequence.

Although it’s not a film that you could say you enjoyed it is thought provoking and affecting. I wasn’t aware of this incident prior to seeing the film and it’s certainly brave of an Israeli film maker to focus on an event that doesn’t show his country men in their best light.

This is a film well worth looking up and if you think animation isn’t the best medium for analysing the evil that men do, a small section of news footage from the time is included at the end to show that the real horrors are far worse than anyone could imagine, let alone draw.

Best Bit : Plumber Comes To Visit
'W' Rating : 19/23

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