Monday, January 26, 2009

waltz with bashir

on saturday mrs. noz, katy and i saw waltz with bashir, an animated documentary tracing an israeli's attempt to come to terms with the atrocities he witnessed while serving with the IDF in lebanon. the filmmaker interviews his former army buddies in an attempt to remember the memories he has repressed. his investigation ultimately leads him to the sabra and shatila massacre, an event he partially witnessed as he stood outside the perimeter of the camps.

the film is animated, beautifully so in many scenes. and that gives a surreal dreamlike feel. indeed, a lot of the film is about the dreams and nightmares of veterans of the conflict. a main theme of the film is the unreliability of memory, how the human mind handles trauma. at the very end of the film, the animation stops, and its replaced by actual news footage. some reviewers have described the transition as jarring, but it seemed entirely appropriate to me. in the end the dreamy memories of the veterans must measured against the cold historical record of the atrocity.

"waltz with bashir" just got nominated an academy award for "best foreign film". i've heard at least one person wonder why it didn't also get nominated for best animated feature. but why stop there? what about best documentary? it's a picture too! why not best picture? actually the answer is that the oscars are nothing but a big hollywood scam, a studio p.r. event disguised as artistic achievement awards. but "waltz" really is a good film. see it despite the oscar nod, preferably on the big screen if you want to see the hauntingly beautiful blasted scenes of lebanon in all their glory.

one more thing, it just occurred to me that "waltz" isn't the first animated documentary that i've ever seen. but the other film is also israeli. are animated documentaries some new fad in israel?