Sunday, March 1, 2009

Waltz With Bashir

"Waltz With Bashir" is an animated foreign language documentary film by and about the film's director, Ari Folman. In the summer of 1982, Israeli forces invaded Beirut, Lebanon, in an attempt to oust the Palestinian Liberation Organization(PLO) which had gained power there, along with the Syrians, and were continually launching rocket attacks against Israel. Once the PLO was stripped of its power in Lebanon, the plan, as mapped out by then Israeli Defence Minister, Ariel Sharon, was to establish Bashir Gemayel, who was the leader of the Christian Phalange party and an ally of Israel, as President of Lebanon. However, the plan fell apart when Gemayel was assassinated. Despite the fact that PLO guerrillas had fled the area after Israel stepped up its attacks, the Christian Phalangist militia, without interference from the Israeli army, entered the Sabra and Shatile refugee camps and massacred an estimated 3,000 Palestinian civilians, including women and children, as payback for the death of their leader, Bashir Gemayel.

Director Ari Folman was a 19-year old Israeli soldier during the siege of Beirut in 1982 and the movie begins with his confusion over the fact that he cant remember anything about this particular time in his life even though he knows he was there. Throughout the film, Folman locates soldiers who served side by side with him during this time and undergoes therapy as well to gather clues of his lost memory. The film ends with the realization that, though Folman did not participate in the massacre, he also did nothing to stop it. As his young, troubled face crowds the screen while the tragedy unfolds before him, the animation ends and the actual footage of the casualties becomes a powerful reminder that war is not the "guts and glory" action flick that Hollywood, at times, makes it out to be.

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