Review of Waltz With Bashir

Review of Waltz With Bashir written and Directed by Ari Folman
Rating *** 1/2

This is a foreign language film that tells several related stories concerning the Israel/ Palestine conflict. In particular it deals with a massacre that ocurred in September of 1982 at a Palestinian refugee camp. The film is unique in a number of ways, the most important of which is the fact that it is entirely animated, except for the last few minutes of the film.

I watched the film with subtitles. It didn't dawn on me to check for an English language version, which I'm sure it had. The subtitles didn't take anything away, though. Plus it was probably better to hear it in the voices and language of the real people. While the animations are first rate, it isn't at the same level of a Pixar or Disney computer generated 3D film. Computers were used, but this is a straight two dimensional frame by frame animation.

I don't know how much was spent on this film, but had it been shot live action it would have been in the hundred million range. It was interesting to hear the writer/director talk about his trouble finding financing. The normal sources for funding documentaries worried that animation doesn't work in documentaries. The feature film people didn't think audiences would by a story told in this manner. I give the filmmakers credit for pushing this project through.

There are plenty of action sequences, but the overall pace is slow. The action sequences are told in flashback as various characters talk about their experiences of twenty-plus years ago. The bottom line is that the stories they tell are compelling. You forget that you're watching an animation.

Is it a feature film or documentary? Even the director doesn't know exactly how to answer that. My take is that it is an interesting and unique way to tell a true story. Add this one to your que.

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