Waltz With Bashir

Year: 2008
Production Co: Bridgit Folman Film Gang
Director: Ari Folman
Producer: Ari Folman
Writer: Ari Folman
Cast: Ari Folman

In 1982, a gang of Christian militia from Lebanon entered the Palestinian refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila in Beirut and massacred as many as several thousand civilians. The slaughter was in retaliation to the assassination of Lebanese President-elect Bashir Gemayal. Young infrantryman Ari Folman was in the area at the time after the Israeli invasion into Lebanon, and while he and his squad members surrounded the camps and monitored the checkpoints, many of them witnessed the massacre inside.

In the present day, Ari is a man haunted by nightmares and lost memories. He's plagued by a recurring dream of being chased by 26 savage dogs and his only memory of the events is of slowly emerging from swimming in the sea at night, military flares lighting up the city of Beirut like angels descending ethereally from heaven.

Ari decides to track down other veterans and ask them what happened, and during his interviews, flashbacks piece together the story leading up to the Sabra/Shatila killings. He and his platoon invade Lebanon, crashing through the countryside in tanks with their fingers on the triggers blowing away anything they can see until they arrive at Beirut where Palestinian freedom fighters pin them down from skyscrapers.

War-weary and downtrodden, Ari and his friends are relieved to be given a slightly quieter mission to close in on the refugee camps, where they're witness to one of history's darkest chapters.

If you don't know anything about Waltz With Bashir, the description of the story above sounds powerful enough. But what will surprise you the most is that it's a cartoon. Using shades of black, orange and ochre, several scenes - even those of war and bloodshed - are beautiful, for want of a better term.

Folman, who's directing the film about himself and real veterans, plumbs the animators toolbox to use tricks such as false perspective, old style hand drawings and a slightly anime movement style in order to give the film a ghostly quality, and it wasn't the first ever animated film to be nominated for a foreign language Oscar for nothing.

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