Waltz With Bashir – Ari Folman

Plays with the conventions of a Documentary due to it having been animation rather than your archetypal realist. Folman has chosen to do so possibly to be able to use re-enactments of certain events that would be too abstract to re-enact in a realistic and down-to-earth sense with real-life actors. Such as Carmi’s dream from the “Love Boat”.

  • A pack of 26 dogs with evil faces (glowing yellow eyes) that have “come to kill” – Boaz
  • Re-enactment of a war in Lebanon – a squad of soldiers sneaking into a village. Executed as if it were a flash-back. Bashir was forced to take out a dog that posed as a threat as it may have barked the entire village awake.
  • Sensual, deep background music played as Folman drives home at night, this occurs as he experiences a collection of memories arising within his own mind.
  • Interview with Folman’s “lawyer friend” at 6 30 in the morning. Folman seeks answers as to why Boaz’s dream about dogs sparkled certain memories that were completely unrelated to the dream.
  • Re-enactment of a visual of people having been researched about memories from their childhood. Segments of a child wandering around a festival with their parents.
  • Camera tracking alongside Folman and Carmi as they walk from Carmi’s car to his house in the snowy weather together. Positions audience to feel as though they are a part of the story.
  • Re-enactment of a group of soldiers being transported to war, partying on the boat at night with their mates and drinking. This is accompanied with a voice-over by Folman as he explains what the look into the past was about.
  • Interview with Folman’s friend Carmi in his house by the fireplace, Carmi talks about that same experience he had and how he vomited that night on the “Love Boat” and passed out.
  • Re-enactment of Carmi’s dream with an enlarged giant naked woman swimming in backstroke to the boat, and taking him away from the boat and swimming away with him resting on her chest. This too, is comprised with a voice-over from Carmi giving further insight into the dream.
  • Re-enactment of Carmi’s recollection of what had happened once the boat had landed on an island. Out of fear Carmi and the other soldiers alongside him opened fire “like maniacs”, resulting in them murdering a whole family in a Mercedes.
  • Re-enactment of Folman’s recollection of how he was placed in command of a tank with a group of soldiers. They were ordered to “get the bodies of the dead and dump them”. They were firing everywhere at anyone, again most probably out of fear of dying.
  • Background music of a song: “Good morning, Lebanon” as Folman and his interviewee talk about how they had time to muck around in the tank and take photos, having a good time before action.
  • Re-enactment of Folman’s interviewee’s memory of having his squad ambushed and their commander killed. There was a sudden explosion and all the soldiers escaped the tank “hysterically” and fled in zig zags. In the re-enactment the interviewee appeared to have been the only survivor as his comrades were gunned down alongside and behind him.
  • Re-enactment of Folman’s interviewee talking about how he swam south away from the men who attacked him and felt at ease as the sea was apparently, “really calm, no waves”.
  • A montage of tanks, soldiers and missiles embarking on war and attacking each other mercilessly and without hesitation. Segments of soldiers firing javelins at cars, Tanks being blown up by mortars and etc are displayed.
  • Juxtapositioning of classic music played as a group of soldiers searched for terrorists in the jungle and are attacked by a boy who fires a missile and destroys their convoy. The soldiers retaliate by opening fire on the boy, killing him with ease in a series of gun shots.
  • Interview with Folman and a woman in an office who talks about an amateur photographer who captured photographs reflecting the war and destruction that had been caused in Lebanon and nearby regions. There is also a voice-over included from the woman’s voice.
  • A montage of Folman when he had just returned home and everyone around him was moving 10x faster than him, reflecting how significantly things had changed since he had left. He was blown away by how the people were living in ignorance of the war and all the mayhem that was occurring in other countries.
  • Re-enactment of a soldier taking a MAG of another soldier by force, waltzing out into open fire and shooting in all directions like a mad-man dancing with his own gun.
  • Re-enactment of a woman buried underneath debris, only leaving her head above the rim and visible to survivors and bystanders. “A head of curls covered in dust.”
  • Archival Footage of women suffering and crying over the losses made from the massacre, in particular their dead children. This archival footage also presents collections of dead bodies throughout the entire village, several different shots with dead men, women and children. Zooming in on their motionless facial expressions as they rest covered in debris and filth and grime.
  1. How did the film make you feel? Explain your responses, making references to moments from the film to illustrate your points. 

The film made me feel somewhat intrigued as a result of my lack of knowledge regarding Lebanon and Beirut. In all honesty I was not even aware that there was a Lebanon war in recent years. Having said that, the documentary was still able to shock me by the presenting of horrible scenarios 18 year-olds had to endure through. This had a large impact on myself as a year from now I will be the same age. Experiences include the squadron of soldiers arriving on the beach and immediately spraying the first car they saw out of fear, resulting in the death of an entire family of innocent people.

2.  How closely did the film match the expectations you had from the trailer and the poster? 

The film did not match the expectations I had from the poster (I did not see the trailer) because I did not expect an animated documentary to be so graphically disturbing and insightful into the horrors of the Lebanon war.

3.  How would you categorise this film if you were to describe it to someone who hadn’t yet seen it? 

I would categorise this film to be more of an animated film rather than a documentary, simply because this was not your archetypal documentary as a result of it being presented in animation form and exploring surrealistic scenarios at times (such as Carmi’s dream on the “Love Boat). I would categorise it as a disturbing animated film that explores the Lebanon war in detail.

4. Now consider the film in terms of genre. In what ways does Waltz with Bashir qualify as a documentary? What generic conventions do you remember seeing in the film?  Beyond war and documentary, what other genres could Waltz with Bashir be placed in? 

Waltz with Bashir makes thorough use of interviews, archival footage, voice-overs, background music and re-enactments. It is by means of these documentary conventions that Waltz with Bashir can be considered as a documentary in spite of it having been predominantly comprised of animations and on occasion tellings of surreal experiences and dreams. This film could be placed in other genres such as animation for this very reason, as well as biography because it is the self-telling of Folman’s experiences and involvement in the Lebanon war.


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