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Waltz with Bashir


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I'll be making room on my year end list for this. It is an animated documentary in which Ari Folman seeks to find his memories of the 1982 war in Lebanon. Bit by bit he gets closer to what happened. What I found especially interesting is that this film is willing to connect the concepts of the Israeli complicity in the massacres in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps by Christian Phalangists with the holocaust; they even use the word genocide in reference to the massacre.

A foreign movie can't be stupid.

-from the film
Armin

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  • 3 weeks later...

My goodness, what a short thread so far.

National Board of Review's Best Picture of 2008, and no comments?

Okay, I admit, I haven't seen it yet.

But after reading months of raves, I'm surprised and intrigued by Michael Sicinski's interesting thumbs-sideways vote.

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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My goodness, what a short thread so far.

Well, like many things that open here late in Dec., it takes a while to get around for people to see. Last update at IMDB showed it at 8 screens in the US. I expect a trickle until Oscar noms come out.

my review

A foreign movie can't be stupid.

-from the film
Armin

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  • 4 weeks later...
My goodness, what a short thread so far.

National Board of Review's Best Picture of 2008, and no comments?

Okay, I admit, I haven't seen it yet.

But after reading months of raves, I'm surprised and intrigued by Michael Sicinski's interesting thumbs-sideways vote.

Sicinski: Reading this edit, we see that even when Bashir "goes live," it's strictly from Folman's highly subjective viewpoint. All pertinent material comes through him. But more jarring is the fact that these generically horrific images -- mutilated children, dismembered civilians, weeping mothers amidst the rubble -- have surprisingly little impact.

What is this guy talking about? "Surprisingly little impact"?!? Ah, to be a cool, aloof academic. (Is he? His site is "academichack.") Lots of interesting words that bear little relation -- see, I can use the word "little," too -- to what I experienced. Or, if I want to play the academic, maybe I'd write "little relation to what's on screen." It's so much more ... objective.

The conclusion of this film is absolutely horrific. I appreciate that the film is subjective and psychological. The rotoscoping here worked far better for me than it did for the endless philosophical questioning in Waking Life, which put me into a quick stupor.

I won't call the film a masterpiece; I was somewhat removed from it at times, and I'm not sure why. But the ending is a strength, not a weakness.

Edited by Christian

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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Drat, no further discussion after launching my missile at Sicinski? I probably aimed my fire in the wrong direction, but I was hoping to get some discussion going about this film. I

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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Gee, Christian, I can discuss it with you, at any rate. I think my main attraction to it is that it is a well told story - the digging through Fulman's psyche (and that of others). That will, I guess, leave it open to kvetching about the subjectivity. As I recall, I think the one thing I missed and would have liked to know a bit more of was how he felt about his Aha! moment (which is when to goes live). But I suspect that the fact that he makes the film tells a bit about the impact his remembering had on him.

I would be interested in reading some of the response that folks had to the implications that the government probably knew what was happening, but never allowed the IDF on the ground to step in. Sorta like hearing Romeo Dallaire talk about not being allowed to do anything in Rwanda. Come to think of it, I'd love to have Dallaire review this film.

PS: looking at IMDB, it's still at <50 screens in the US. ::bang::

Edited by Darrel Manson
A foreign movie can't be stupid.

-from the film
Armin

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Darrel, sorry if it sounded like I was ignoring you. I knew you'd seen the movie, of course, but was hoping to coax out others who had seen it but hadn't posted.

As for your comment about government complicity, I have to admit that the film worked for me almost strictly as a psychological study of memory -- the very subjectivity you suspect might be a drawback for some! The details of the massacre are grim, of course, but I don't find the film memorable because of its examination of Middle East conflict, about which everyone has an opinion.

I've been thinking a lot lately about memories, and how certain stories I've read, and movies I've seen, have pivoted on the idea of sudden recovery of lost memories from childhood. Those things stay with me, and make me wonder what might be lurking in my own subconscious (God forbid I ever find out -- although maybe I will someday). The way the filmmaker teases out what happened interested me as a process, and certain visuals are just as present to me today as they were last Saturday

(flares, soldiers rising from the water, even two people talking in a bar!)

.

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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I also think the film's primary strength is as an exploration of the processing of the memories of soldiers who have participated in war atrocities. I think the animation shows this very effectively, showing the distance that people have to take in living with this kind of guilt, and how pieces of memory are processed in absurd and surreal images. If the entire film was shown live rather than animated, the images would have been too hard to take.

And the act of making a film like this seems to be a processing of national guilt as well as personal, for the actions of both the soldiers and the people in charge who made these decisions.

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