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"I wanted to forget. I didn't want to relive those moments".,
This review is from: Waltz with Bashir [Blu-ray]  (Blu-ray)
Waltz With Bashir is a documentary charting the journey of Ari Folman as he interviews old military comrades in an attempt to jog his memory over events in Beirut during the Lebanon war.
Instead of using actual video footage, the film uses animation to bring together visual recreations of events alongside interviews with those from his past (and present). The animation style utilises different techniques to bring a unique look to the film. Classic hand drawn animation is sometimes used for rural backdrops with computer generated 3D moments during some scenes. As well as 'proper' 3D where we experience moving around the landscape there is frequent use of 2D planes to build up a sense of depth. Some parts of the film use different methods more than others, but the overall look is a blend of style to create a distinct aesthetic quality. Cityscapes and vehicles look incredible, it's perhaps best demonstrated in a scene where we see a tank navigating through city streets, crushing cars and squeezing through gaps.
The animation is fluent and not jerky, but abrupt ends to human movement remind you that they are computer generated, however they do look surprisingly realistic with their nuances and they capture the subtly of human communication well. It's almost as if the animators have studied video footage of the subjects and incorporated every little hand movement and expression change, and perhaps they did.
As Folam travels and hears first person accounts we are given a soldier's-eye-view of the war. Vague recollections seem pretty common and it's easy to see why, as the awful sights they experienced aren't the sort of thing a person likes to think about or be reminded of. The soldiers aren't even aware of their inbuilt desire to forget atrocities which could easily drive them to breakdown - the process of burying them appears to be a natural one. There are also conscious efforts made to try and distance themselves from the horrors around them. During scenes of war they try to 'get on with it' and attempt to dehumanise events. This emotional detachment helps them to deal with the loss of life.
The film doesn't seem to be judging or taking sides, it's simply giving us personal stories and this excuses it from any accusations of incorrect portrayals. The first person viewpoint really puts you there and there's a real sense that what you see is a representative depiction how the interviewee saw it. Some say that the historical accuracy of this is flimsy at best, but it doesn't matter really - this is told as a series of intimate personal stories where the individual versions of events have been warped and shaped by a subconscious desire to bury the memories.
This blu-ray package impresses visually, many of the scenes in the film consist of one colour with dark shadows and the clean transfer helps it to look moody without dampening the effect with compression articles and digital noise. The audio is crystal clear and whether you're watching a scene set in a café or a clip of destruction - every little sound can be made out. The soundtrack is reminiscent of some of the modern classic war films (such as Platoon or Full Metal Jacket) and consists of atmospheric classical numbers alongside more rock and roll ones too. The extras aren't extensive but they do cover how the animation was achieved and explore Ari Folman's personal quest to get the film made which touches on the politics behind the feature.
In a nutshell: This shouldn't be considered as a balanced documentary, artistic license is well used here and the film presents personal experiences rather than a de-facto account of events. It's not the easiest film to watch and is perhaps aware of its own self-importance but it's worth it, it concludes with a short non-animated sequence which is a shocking and powerful reminder as to why films like this need to be made.
Location: Doncaster, Yorkshire, UK.
Top Reviewer Ranking: 141