Waltz With Bashir: Best Picture of the Year

 

An Oscar-nominee for Best  Foreign Language Film, Waltz With Bashir will be released on Blu-ray   and DVD on June 23, 2009 from Sony Home Entertainment. The winner of the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film, Waltz  With Bashir was written and directed by Ari Folman. 

Special features on both versions will  include an English language version of the film, Director’s  Commentary, a Making-Of Featurette, a Q & A with Director Ari Folman  and Animatics-Building the Scenes.

In addition to its  Oscar Award nomination and Golden Globe win, Waltz With Bashir was nominated for the Palme D’Or at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival and was  a 2008 official selection at the New York Film Festival, the Toronto  Film Festival and the Telluride Film Festival. 

BLU-RAY AND DVD BONUS FEATURES INCLUDE:

•    English language version of the film
•    “Making-of” Featurette
•    Animatics – Building the Scenes
•    Q & A with Director Ari Folman
•    Director’s Commentary

Film Review

Cannes Film Fest 2008–Artistically innovative, politically committed and personally expressive, Ari Folman’s “Waltz With Bashir” is one of the most original films of the year, a feature that qualifies as animated documentary, which explains its nominations and wins in both categories at various film festivals and by various critics groups.

 

 

 

World-premiering at the 2008 Cannes Film Fest in May, “Waltz With Bashir” has been recently nominated for a Golden Globe (in the foreign-language film category) and is Israel’s official entry for the Foreign-Language Oscar (nominations will be announced Jan 22).

 

 

 

One night at a bar, Boaz, an old friend, tells director Ari Folman’s about a recurring nightmare in which he is chased by 26 vicious dogs, which constitutes the first, utterly striking and shocking segment in the picture. Every night, there are the same number of beasts. The two men conclude that there’s a connection to their Israeli Army mission in the first Lebanon War of the early 1980s, but Ari is surprised that he can’t remember a thing anymore about that presumably significant period of his life.

 

 

 

Intrigued by this riddle, he decides to meet and interview old friends and comrades around the world. And from that point on, “Waltz With Bashir” becomes sort of a road movie.  Folman needs to discover the truth about that painful time and about himself. As Ari delves deeper and deeper into the mystery, his memory begins to creep up in images that are truly surreal.  One of the film’s forceful visual motifs depicts a bunch of soldiers emerging naked out of the waters of Lebanon in the middle of the night. 

 

 

 

The film centers on the role of the Israeli army in the massacres conducted by the Christian Phalangists of Palestinian civilian (woman and children included) n the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps; former prime minister Ariel Sharon was condemned for his actions. 

 

 

 

The crediting sequence is nothing short of brilliant, featuring a pack of vicious hounds chasing a man, which turns out to be the recurrent anxiety of Boaz, Ari Folman’s friend, who kicks off the narrative.  Decades later, Boaz is still haunted by his cold-blooded shooting of the 26 dogs so that he can execute his mission in silence.  Favoring anonymity, Boaz, by the way, is the only soldier who’s voiced by a professional actor (Miki Leon).

 

 

 

The narrative is loose enough to allow for digressive commentaries and voice-overs about the soldiers ‘lives outside of the military, including their family backgrounds, love affairs, friendships, politics, and worldviews.  In the end, you get a rough portrait of what it meant to be a young man in Israel of the early 1980s.

 

 

 

Perhaps the best compliment to pay this feature is that in its powerful imagery and vital intelligence it’s incomparable to any other animation or docu.  Yet in broader terms, “Waltz With Bashir” may belong to a cycle of films, prime among which is Coppola’s “Apocalypse Now,” which depict war as madness and hell and combat as an experience that could only be captured in surreal terms.  Witness the climax of this docu, in which a solider goes on an irrational killing spree, in which, trapped in an empty, desolate street, he shoots indiscriminately everything in sight.

 

 

 

In general approach, the film bears slight resemblance to the Iranian animated docu “Persepolis,” in which director Marjane Satrapi also used animation to explore in personal ways chapters of her society’s turbulent history.

 

 

 

A word about Folman, since I assume his work is unfamiliar to most viewers outside Israel.  In the mid-1980s, after completing his military service, Ari Folman ventured out on his dream trip to circle the world with a backpack. Just two weeks and two countries into the trip, he realized traveling was not for him, so he settled into small guesthouses in Southeast Asia and wrote letters to his friends at home, letters in which he fabricated the perfect trip. After one year of being in one place and expressing his fantastical imagination, he return homed to study cinema.

 

 

 

Folman’s graduate film, “Comfortably Numb” (1991) documented Ari’s close friends taking cover on the verge of anxiety attacks during the first Gulf war while Iraqi missiles landed all over Tel Aviv. The result was comical and absurd and the film won the Israeli Academy award for Best Documentary.  Between 1991-1996 Ari directed documentary specials for TV, mainly in the occupied territories. In 1996 he wrote and directed ASaint Clara@, a feature based on a novel by Czech author Pavel Kohout. The film won seven Israeli Academy awards, including Best Director and Best Film. “Saint Clara” opened the Berlin Film Festival’s Panorama and won the People’s Choice Award.

 

 

 

His second feature, “Made in Israel,” in 2001, is a futuristic fantasy that centers upon the pursuit of the world’s only remaining Nazi. Ari has written for several successful Israeli TV series, including the award-winning “In Therapy,” which became the basis for the new HBO series “In Treatment.”