When he decided he wanted to recount his experiences in the Israeli army during the 1982 Lebanon War, director Ari Folman knew he wanted to make a film like one that audiences had never seen before. The unique style of animation used in Waltz With Bashir transcends the timely true tale into a surreal experience, giving the events in the film a lasting impression.
The film opens with a pack of dogs running wildly through the streets. Snarling and barking angrily, they knock over chairs at a sidewalk cafe and frighten everyone in their path. They finally arrive at their target, the apartment building of Boaz Rein Buskila. These very dogs have haunted his dreams in the years following the Lebanon War, and this stunning opening scene serves as the first of many interviews conducted by Ari Folman. Folman has one unsettling memory of his time in the war, but cant seem to recall anything else. In his attempt to piece together his memories, Folman travels across Israel and several other countries visiting old friends and comrades so they can tell him their stories.
Every interview is a unique experience, as the story being told is an actual memory, actual events that took place. Every action scene is narrated by the person being interviewed. Since the action is animated, it is easy to forget that these situations were, and very much still are, real. It is when the action shifts to a shot of the person being interviewed that we are brought back to reality. Folman further emphasizes the reality and brutality of the Lebanon War, specifically the Sabra and Shatila Massacres, by ending the film with actual photos from the war. He effectively draws us out of our surreal stupor so we can focus on what has happened in the past and causes us to reflect upon events occurring in our present.
The mesmerizing animation technique is not to be confused with rotoscoping, such as the animation in Richard Linklaters film Waking Life and A Scanner Darkly. The animation technique used for Waltz With Bashir was created specifically for this film by Director of Animation Yoni Goodman. That the style of animation was created especially for this film makes it that much more interesting to me.
Accenting the various stories told by the interviewees is the perfect score which uses both modern rock tracks by musician Max Richter and classical pieces. The soundtrack serves as another character in the film as it gives comic relief and provides an accompaniment to the action.
Even though the film is quite unique, the pacing suffers a bit in the third act. Although this one flaw is not enough to ruin the experience of viewing such a different film. In the age where Hollywood churns out the same formulaic types of film, Waltz With Bashir is a breath of fresh air that is both visually stunning and timely in its message.
This Blu-Ray is presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio and with HD Digital surround sound. The picture is of outstanding quality enhancing the animation. This is a perfect BD to test your home system with. The sound is so varying – from monologues to rock ‘n roll music to gunfire to bombs – this film has everything.
Q&A With Director Ari Folman – This Q&A was filmed after a screening. Some of the more interesting answers came to questions about how Folman got funding for the film and what happened to the love interest in the film. 9:19
Surreal Soldiers – Making Waltz With Bashir – This making-of focuses on the animation technique that was developed for the film. 12:03
Building the Scenes – Animatics: – This series shows the animation process for several scenes in the film, from animatic to final scene.
– Beirut Street Battle with Ron Ben Yishai 8:52
– The Fighting Arts with Schmuel 2:02
– Tank Patrol with Dror Harazi 3:59
– Attacked in the Orange Grove 1:21
Trailers – commercial for Sony Blu-Ray, Persepolis, Frozen River, Synecdoche, NY
Waltz With Bashir, the animated documentary with subtitles (the entire film is in Hebrew), doesn’t necessarily appeal to a big audience. But if you are looking for something different, something poignant and meaningful, Waltz With Bashir comes highly recommended.
Sony Pictures Classics presents Waltz With Bashir. Directed by: Ari Folman. Starring: Ari Folman, Ron Ben-Yishai, Ronny Dayang. Written by: Ari Folman. Running time: 90 minutes. Rating: R. Released on DVD: June 23, 2009. Available at Amazon.com