Last night, I finally took the time to Waltz with Bashir. Its been sitting on my coffee table for a little over a week now. Meghan and I really wanted to watch it, but knew that it would be an intense viewing experience, so we waited for the right time. And after a oppressively hot day, that time came:
In the first few frames of this movie, we knew we were in for a treat. The opening scene was images of vicious dogs running amok on a town only to terrorize a man living in the upper story of an apartment building. I was of course trying to connect the metaphor of the dogs with the powers of War. It turned out to be a mans dream, a constructed recollection of the Lebanon War. The man was assigned to shoot dogs as they approached a village so that villagers wouldn't be aware of their entrance. One night he shot 28 dogs and each of them came to visit him in a dream.
The rest of the movie flowed in a similar manner, between documentary-style interviews and the seeming acid-induced memories of war. The use of Animation played an important part in the construction of the film. And its cut from animation to real shots at the end has a deafening effect.
Dreams, reality, PTSD, and memories all collided in peoples re-telling of their individual war stories, while the director/writer of the film tried to piece together his fractured memory of the Sabra and Shatilla Massacre, through other men’s recollections.
The Film brought up very real aspects of war, the kind of things that we don't often see or want to see in a war movie. It showed the weakness and fragility of the soldiers, it showed the incoherent destruction that war brings, and it really personified how PTSD works.
I was floored by the integration of the images and sounds of the film: Water and its symbolism ran throughout the film, guns took literal and figurative meaning as guitars, phalluses, and fragility. Music played an important part in the ebb and flow of the film: specifically a scene in which the soldiers are being hunted by a young boy with an RPG and a classical waltz plays and a dance that encapsulates the insanity of war and the title of the film.
From what little I do know about the conflicts that happen in Israel and Palestine, I entered this viewing experience with a critical eye. I didn't want an unfair view of what is happening, I believe that the film also has a very critical viewpoint.
I believe this is required viewing for anyone who wants a deeper understanding of what war is.