Friday, 3 May 2013

Waltz with Bashir.

One night at a bar, an old friend tells film director Ari Folman about a recurring nightmare in which he is chased by 26 vicious dogs, every night the same dream and exactly the same number of beasts. Between them the two men agree that there must be a connection between their Israeli Army mission in the first Lebanon War of the early eighties and this nightmare. Ari can’t remember a thing anymore about that period of his life and is intrigued by this riddle and decides to meet and interview old friends and comrades from around the world. He needs to discover the truth about that period and of course about himself. As Ari delves deeper and deeper into the mystery, his memory begins to creep up in surreal images …

Which brings us nicely to the animated documentary Waltz with Bashir (2008).  It tells the story of the Sabra and Shatila massacre which was carried out between 16 and 18 September 1982 by the Lebanese Forces militia after the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) allowed Lebanese Christian Phalangist militiamen to enter two Palestinian refugee camps where they brutily massacred the civilians. It was argued that the Israelis should have known that the massacre would occur, considering the recent assassination of Phalangist leader and prospective president Bashir Gemayel and given the long history of animosity between the Palestinians and the Phalangists. The exact number killed is disputed, but ranges between 328 and 3,500. 

Although this is a very sound piece of film making it’s not a particularly a easy watch.  This movie bares a remarkable resemblance to the current troubles in Gaza but the animation seems to dilute the seriousness of the subject until you’re forced to sit up and take notice when the live segment at the end of the film graphically demonstrates the true extent of the massacre!

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