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Waltz with Bashir


Year: 2008 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: Unknown 
Certificate: BBFC 18 Cert – Not suitable for under 18s 
Subtitles: It is expected that this film is fully subtitled. 
Directed by Ari Folman 
Starring: Ari Folman, Ori Sivan and Ronny Dayag.  
An image from Waltz with Bashir

On realising he has no memory of serving in the Israeli Army during the First Lebanon War in 1982, Ari Folman tracks down his old buddies to hear their stories of the conflict, and try to solve the mystery of his own psychological blind spot. He slowly comes to the realisation of his part in the conflict as the full terror of war is unfolded.

Most war films share certain characteristics - gore, comradeship, suffering for the greater good, ‘the horror!’ – but Ari Folman’s “Waltz with Bashir” takes these themes and makes a film out of them that some might call slightly, well... disrespectful. The reason being, it’s animated. Films like Richard Linklater’s “A Scanner Darkly” and the award-winning “Persepolis” have developed animated films into a medium that can be taken seriously, but “Waltz with Bashir” is rare in that it’s an animated documentary, and the first animated film to tackle such a controversial issue as the Israel/Palestine conflict. That said the animation never feels like a gimmick. In fact, the visual style of the film quickly seems so natural that you forget all about it and get drawn in to the intensely personal world of Folman’s war – making the ending all the more chilling.

The clichés of the modern war film are nowhere to be found here; no opening shots of rolling tanks, no beefy soldiers cradling dying comrades in their arms. Instead “Waltz with Bashir” is a thought-provoking, respectful portrayal of a very current issue, and of a man slowly and painfully uncovering a deeply-rooted trauma. Folman doesn’t take sides, despite his background, and the result is a truly astonishing, unforgettable, Oscar-worthy film.

Marcus Kelly

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Screenings of this film:

2008/2009 Spring Term (35mm)