Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Film Review - Waltz With Bashir (2008)

Fig 1. Film Poster 
Waltz With Bashir' was written, directed and produced by Ari Folman. The film's original language is Hebrew but it has English and French subtitles. The film is an animated war documentary which depicts the sad and horrific moments of the Lebanon War in 1982.

"The 1982 Lebanon War began on June 6, 1982, as what was supposed to be a short-term military operation - Operation Peace for Galilee. The operation was meant to destroy militant infrastructure on the Lebanese-Israeli border, which had been used by terrorists to attack IDF forces, as well as the Israeli communities abject to the border." Ynetnews, 2008) In the film a man named Ari is trying to uncover the memories from his past as a soldier from the Lebanon War. He has trouble remembering this period of his life, so decides to search for his fellow friends and comrades who explain their experiences of the war from their point of view.

The film presents itself in a graphic, novel style. All the scenes are beautifully illustrated with matching colour schemes. Many of the scenes have thick, black, sharp lines and shadows, giving it a 2D, cartoon effect. However, this contrasts with the use of bold colours to create light, making the characters and buildings less flat and more 3D. "Planes and surfaces stir and throb with colours harder, sharper, brighter than before. It looks like one long hallucination, and therefore perfect for the trauma of Folman's recovered memories." (Bradshaw P, 2008)

Fig 2. Film Still

The film was originally a 90 minute, real life video, with 90 pages worth of script. "From there 2,300 original illustrations were drawn based on the storyboard, which together formed the actual film scenes using Flash animation, classic animation, and 3D technologies” (Zumberg, 2008).
This made critiques question  how the movement of characters were done so well? The director had even been accused by some, of using the method of Rotoscoping: "When using this technique, animators trace over live action film movement on each frame to use in an animated film." (Tech FAQ) 

The Director denies using this method: "It’s important for me to make clear that by all means this film was not made by rotoscope animation, meaning that we did not illustrate and paint over the real video. We drew it again from scratch with the great talent of art director David Polonsky and his three assistants." (Folman)

Some may say that it is unusual to use animation for something as formal as a documentary. Most animations resemble family friendly topics but this film was solely adult themed. Using animation to tell his story,  worked to the Directors advantage because there are less limitations when it comes to  animating. Animation provides the opportunity to flit between tenses, exploring the past, present and future in any one scene more easily.

Foleman had originally done documentaries without the use of animation, he explains why he made it this way: "A middleaged man being interviewed against a black background, telling stories that happened 25 years ago, without any archival footage to support them. That would have been SO BORING! Then I figured out it could be done only in animation with fantastic drawings. War is so surreal, and memory is so tricky that I thought I’d better go all along the memory journey with the help of very fine illustrators." (Folman)

At the very end of the film the animation takes a turn to real life footage from the chaotic, horrifying and tragic scenes from the Lebanon War "...there is a bold shift from animation to TV news footage. I am not sure quite what to make of this shift, and have an uncomfortable feeling that it is an aesthetic error..." (Bradshaw P, 2008) This part I found took us back to the harsh reality of war. It reminds the viewer that although this is an animation, it is not fictional. The events depicted in the film were once real nightmares for those experiencing the Lebanon War.

Fig 3. Film Still

Illustration List
Figure 1. Film Poster
(Accessed 06.02.18)

Figure 2.
(Accessed 06.02.18)

Figure 3.
(Accessed 06.02.18)

Bradshaw P, (2008) Waltz With Bashir
(Accessed 06.02.18)

Waltz With Bashir (2009) Film

(Tech FAQ) What is Rotoscoping?
(Accessed 06.02.18)

Ynetnews, (2008) The Lebanon, (1982) War,7340,L-3631005,00.html
(Accessed 06.02.18)

Zumberg, J (2008). Israeli filmmakers head to Cannes with animated documentary
(Accessed 06.02.18)

Lorman, R Waltz With Bashi, An Ari Folman Film
(Accessed 06.02.18)