Waltz With Bashir is an Isreali animated documentary that has been nominated and awarded to the high heavens. A drastically stylish take on the events leading up to the Sabra & Shatila massacre in 1982, the viewer follows director Ari Folman as he tries to rediscover his memories as a soldier for the Isreali Defence Force during that time. He is visited by a friend haunted by dreams caused by the war, some 20 odd years ago, which triggers his own hallucinations. His friend advises him to investigate and find out just what happened, so he goes off to talk to various people involved. Piece by piece, the details of that tragic event are revealed, woven into an incredibly sad tale about the horrors of war.

The title for the film comes a scene within the film itself, when one interviewee, Frenkel, bursts out onto a street in the middle of heavy shooting, and breaks into an absurd waltz, with posters of Bashir Gemayel. Bashir had just been elected president of Lebanon but was then murdered. The massacre the film looks into was revenge for that killing. It’s probably the most dramatic, unbelieveable shot in the film. The pic below shows Frenkel’s feet dancing as the shells fall out of his MAG machinegun.

waltz with bashir

Waltz is gripping and engaging, tainted by the trauma of war. As an outsider, I cannot begin to understand the true events or the complexities that would lead people to commit crimes like the one portrayed in the film. I can only sit in my cosy albeit ergonomically shitty little chair and postulate on a world far removed from my own and remain comforted that it is so. Beautiful as the Max Richter enabled soundtrack is, I feel guilty that someone feels the need to color over a tragedy to make it easier to swallow.

Another scene I remember well, is when one of the soldiers reminisces how he was on a boat and Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark’s Enola Gay played like it was a party until everything gets blown to bits. The song, references the B-29 bomber that dropped that jawn on Hiroshima in WWII. Call it hippie, peace loving crap if you want, but civilians and innocents do not deserve getting the shit. Ever.