Waltz with Bashir

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Waltz with Bashir

Theatrical poster
Directed by Ari Folman
Produced by Ari Folman
Serge Lalou
Gerhard Meixner
Yael Nahlieli
Roman Paul
Written by Ari Folman
Starring Ari Folman
Music by Max Richter
Editing by Nili Feller
Distributed by Sony Pictures Classics
Bridgit Folman Film Gang
Les Films d'Ici
Razor Film Produktion GmbH
Release date(s) May 13, 2008 (Cannes)
June 5, 2008 (Israel)
December 25, 2008
Running time 86 min.
Country Israel
United States
Language Hebrew
Budget $ 2,000,000 [1]
Gross revenue $10,273,165

Waltz with Bashir (Hebrew: ואלס עם באשיר‎ - Vals Im Bashir) is a 2008 Israeli animated documentary film written and directed by Ari Folman. The film was conceived as a journey in search of Folman's lost memories from the 1982 Lebanon War.[2] Folman designed the film as an anti-war message.[3][4]

This film and $9.99, also released in 2008, are the first Israeli animated feature-length films released in movie theaters. Waltz with Bashir premiered at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival where it entered the competition for the Palme d'Or, and since then has won and been nominated for many additional important awards while receiving wide acclaim from critics. It won a Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film, an NSFC Award for Best Film, a César Award for Best Foreign Film and an IDA Award for Feature Documentary, and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, a BAFTA Award for Best Film Not in the English Language and an Annie Award for Best Animated Feature.


[edit] Plot

In 1982, Ari Folman was a 19-year-old infantry soldier in the Israel Defense Forces. In 2006, he meets with a friend from his army service period, who tells him of the nightmares connected to his experiences from the Lebanon War. Folman is surprised to find that he does not remember a thing from that period. Later that night he has a vision from the night of the Sabra and Shatila massacre, the reality of which he is unable to tell. In his memory, he and his soldier friends are bathing at night by the seaside in Beirut under the light of flares descending over the city. Folman rushes off to meet another friend from his army service, who advises him to discuss it with other people who were in Beirut at the same time in order to understand what happened there and to relive his own memory. Folman converses with friends, a psychologist and the reporter Ron Ben-Yishai who was in Beirut at the time.

[edit] Cast

The film contains both fictional composites of real life figures and actual living people.

  • Ari Folman as himself, an Israeli filmmaker who recently finished his military reserve service. Some twenty years before, he served in the Israel Defense Forces during the 1982 Lebanon War.
  • Miki Leon as Boaz Rein-Buskila, an Israeli 1982 Lebanon War-veteran accountant suffering from nightmares.
  • Ori Sivan as himself, an Israeli filmmaker who previously co-directed two films with Folman and is his long-time friend.
  • Yehezkel Lazarov as Carmi Cna'an, an Israeli 1982 Lebanon War-veteran who once was Folman's friend and now lives in the Netherlands.
  • Ronny Dayag as himself, an Israeli 1982 Lebanon War-veteran high food engineer.
  • Shmuel Frenkel as himself, an Israeli 1982 Lebanon War-veteran. During this war he was the commander of an infantry unit.
  • Zahava Solomon as herself, an Israeli psychologist and researcher in the field of psychological trauma.
  • Ron Ben-Yishai as himself, an Israeli journalist who was the first to cover the Sabra and Shatila massacre.
  • Dror Harazi as himself, an Israeli 1982 Lebanon War-veteran. During this war he commanded a tank brigade stationed outside the Shatila refugee camp.

[edit] Title

The film takes its title from a scene in which Shmuel Frenkel, one of the interviewees and the commander of Folman's infantry unit at the time of the film's events, grabs a light machine gun and "dances an insane waltz" amid heavy enemy fire on a Beirut street festooned with huge posters of Bashir Gemayel.

[edit] Production

The film took four years to complete. It is unusual in it being a feature-length documentary made almost entirely by the means of animation. It combines classical music, 1980s music, realistic graphics and surrealistic scenes together with illustrations similar to comics. The only part of the film which wasn't made by means of animation is a short segment at the very end of the film which shows the documented results of the Sabra and Shatila massacre in a news archive footage.

The animation, unique with its dark hues representing the overall feel of the film, uses a unique style invented by Yoni Goodman at the Bridgit Folman Film Gang studio in Israel. The technique is often confused with rotoscoping, an animation style that uses drawings over live footage, but is actually a combination of Flash cutouts and classic animation. [5] Each drawing was sliced into hundreds of pieces which were moved in relation to one another, thus creating the illusion of movement. The film was first shot in a sound studio as a 90-minute video and then transferred to a storyboard. From there 2,300 original illustrations were drawn based on the storyboard, which together formed the actual film scenes using Flash animation, classic animation, and 3D technologies. [6]

The original soundtrack was composed by minimalist electronic musician Max Richter while the featured songs are by OMD ("Enola Gay"), PiL ("This is Not a Love Song"), Navadei Haucaf ("Good Morning Lebanon", written for the movie), The Click ("Incubator") and Zeev Tene (a remake of the Cake song "I Bombed Korea," retitled "Beirut"). Some critics have viewed the music as playing an active role as commentator on events instead of simple accompaniment.[7]

The graphic novel genre, in particular Joe Sacco, [8] the novels Catch-22, The Adventures of Wesley Jackson and Slaughterhouse-Five [9] and painter Otto Dix [10] were mentioned by Folman and art director David Polonsky as influences on the film. The film itself was adapted into a graphic novel in 2009.

[edit] Reception

[edit] Perception of the film

Waltz with Bashir received highly positive reviews from film critics. The review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 96% of critics had given the film positive reviews, based upon 108 reviews.[11] At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the film has received an average score of 91, based on 33 reviews.[12] indieWire named the film the tenth best of the year, based on the site's annual survey of 100 film critics. [13] Xan Brooks of The Guardian called it "an extraordinary, harrowing, provocative picture." [14] The film was praised for "inventing a new cinematographic language" at the Tokyo Filmex festival. [15]

Despite the positive critical reception, the film was only moderately commercially successful in Israel itself.[3] However, a recent poll has called Waltz with Bashir the third most-favorite Israeli film of all time.[16]

[edit] Coverage of the film's subject material

Israeli newspaper Haaretz correspondent Gideon Levy has stated that the film is "stylish, sophisticated, gifted and tasteful - but propaganda" for portraying Israel and the IDF in a too positive light. He labels it a "charade".[4] The Nation viewed the film's depiction of the events as disturbingly realistic and timely, lamenting that "Israel of today is not Ari Folman's. It is Avigdor Lieberman's and Benjamin Netanyahu's".[16] Commentary called the film both "emotionally powerful" and "intellectually shallow" due to its "murky ambiguity" about the IDF's role in the massacre. However, the otherwise positive review also concluded that "What terrible things Israel has done— and how wonderful it is to have souls sensitive enough to admit it."[3]

The comparisons drawn between SS behavior during the holocaust and IDF behavior during the massacre by a character in the film is particularly controversial. Commentary remarked that "As vilely anti-Semitic as it is to compare Israel’s actions to those of the Nazis, it is perfectly natural for Israelis to think of the Holocaust in certain situations, because they, unlike other peoples, still live in the Holocaust’s shadow."[3] However, Pajamas Media writer John Rosenthal called the scenes "wildly overblown" and "an obvious logical howler".[17]

[edit] Lebanon screening

Like all Israeli films, the film has been banned in most Arab countries, with the most harsh critics in Lebanon, as the movie depicts a vague and violent time in Lebanon's history. A movement of bloggers, among them the Lebanese Inner Circle, +961 and others have rebelled against the Lebanese government's ban of the movie, and have managed to get the movie seen by local Lebanese critics, in defiance of their government's request on banning it. The film was privately screened in January 2009 in Beirut in front of 90 people.[18] Folman saw the screening as a source of great pride:

I was overwhelmed and excited. I wish I could have been there. I wish one day I'll be able to present the film myself in Beirut. For me, it will be the happiest day of my life.[19]

[edit] Top ten lists

The film appeared on many critics' top ten lists of the best films of 2008.[20]

[edit] Awards and nominations

Waltz with Bashir became the first animated film to have received a nomination for either an Academy Award or a Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film. It also became first Israeli Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film winner since The Policeman (1971), and the first documentary film to win the award. [21] It was unsuccessfully submitted for an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature nomination, and became ineligible for the Academy Award for Documentary Feature when the Academy announced its new rule to nominate only documentaries which have had a qualifying run in both New York and Los Angeles by August 31. [22] The film was also included in the National Board of Review's Top Foreign Films list. Ari Folman won the WGA's Best Documentary Feature Screenplay award and the DGA's Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Documentary award for creating the film. Folman also received nominations for Annie Awards for writing and for directing in an animated feature production.

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^ Ari Folman's journey into a heart of darkness, International Herald Tribune
  2. ^ Drawing a war dance. Haaretz. Retrieved March 23, 2009.
  3. ^ a b c d The “Waltz with Bashir” Two-Step. Hillel Halkin. Commentary Magazine. March 2009.
  4. ^ a b "Gideon Levy / 'Antiwar' film Waltz with Bashir is nothing but charade". Haaretz. 21 January 2009. http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1065552.html. 
  5. ^ [1], DG Design
  6. ^ Israeli filmmakers head to Cannes with animated documentary, Israel21c.org
  7. ^ "The Responsible Dream: On Waltz with Bashir". Bright Lights Film Journal. http://www.brightlightsfilm.com/63/63waltz.html. Retrieved on 2009-2-6. 
  8. ^ "A Waltz and an Interview: Speaking with Waltz with Bashir Creator Ari Folman". cincity2000.com. http://www.cincity2000.com/content/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&Itemid=2&id=1654. Retrieved on 2009-2-5. 
  9. ^ "Interview - Ari Folman". Eye Weekly. http://www.eyeweekly.com/film/interview/article/47437. Retrieved on 2009-2-5. 
  10. ^ "Interview : Waltz with Bashir". movies.ie. http://www.movies.ie/html/article.aspx?articleid=3561. Retrieved on 2009-2-5. 
  11. ^ "Waltz with Bashir Movie Reviews". Rotten Tomatoes. IGN Entertainment, Inc. http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/waltz_with_bashir/. Retrieved on 2009-03-05. 
  12. ^ "Waltz with Bashir (2008): Reviews". Metacritic. CNET Networks, Inc. http://www.metacritic.com/film/titles/waltzwithbashir2008. Retrieved on 2009-03-05. 
  13. ^ Sasha Stone (2008-12-23). "Indiewire polls 100 critics". http://www.awardsdaily.com/?p=5193. Retrieved on February 12, 2009. 
  14. ^ Brooks, Xan (2008-05-15). "Bring on the light relief". Cannes diary. The Guardian. http://film.guardian.co.uk/cannes2008/story/0,,2280032,00.html. Retrieved on 2008-05-15. 
  15. ^ "'Bashir' wins big at Tokyo Filmex". Variety. http://www.variety.com/index.asp?layout=festivals&jump=story&id=1061&articleid=VR1117996638&cs=1. Retrieved on February 4, 2009. 
  16. ^ a b Waltzing Alone. By Liel Leibovitz. The Nation. Published February 19, 2009.
  17. ^ Waltz with Bashir, Nazi Germany, and Israel. Pajamas Media. By John Rosenthal. Published February 18, 2009.
  18. ^ "Israeli film on Lebanon War 'Waltz with Bashir' shown in Beirut". Haaretz. http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1057268.html. Retrieved on 2009-01-30. 
  19. ^ "'Waltz with Bashir' breaks barriers in Arab world". The Jerusalem Post. 2009-02-22. http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1233304842933&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull. Retrieved on 2009-02-23. 
  20. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t "Metacritic: 2008 Film Critic Top Ten Lists". Metacritic. http://www.metacritic.com/film/awards/2008/toptens.shtml. Retrieved on January 11, 2009. 
  21. ^ "'Waltz with Bashir' Makes Golden Globe History". documentary.org. http://www.documentary.org/content/waltz-bashir-makes-golden-globe-history. Retrieved on February 10, 2009. 
  22. ^ "Bashir at Center of Oscar Controversy". Animation Magazine. http://www.animationmagazine.net/article/9027. Retrieved on February 7, 2009. 

[edit] External links

Preceded by
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film
Succeeded by
Preceded by
There Will Be Blood
NSFC Award for Best Film
Succeeded by
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