Release date (limited): Dec. 26
Director/Producer/Writer: Ari Folman
Art Director: David Polonsky
Starring: Folman, Ori Sivan
Studio/Run Time: ?Sony Pictures Classics, 87 mins.
Animated “documentary” reclaims darkest memories
As much about memory’s hallucinatory inventions as the facts of the 1982 massacre at a Palestinian refugee camp in Beirut by the so-called Phalangist Christian militia, Ari Folman’s animated Waltz With Bashir begins with 26 barking dogs rushing through a city. From there, the emotional intensity doesn’t let up. Though Folman, a veteran Israeli documentarian, calls Bashir a documentary based on the interviews at its core (mostly with fellow soldiers), his cameras go places the handiest cinematographer could never venture: Beams of light bend between branches during a forest battle; and the dream images of rising naked from the sea—while balls of fire fall from the sky—are just as real as the chasm-like blank spots in Folman’s mind as he reconstructs his mission into Lebanon. Powerful beyond a doubt, especially during a fourth-wall shattering climax, Waltz With Bashir borrows the visualized mind games of Richard Linklater’s recent efforts and dances them to the deep end.