Thursday, December 25, 2008

Film Review: Waltz with Bashir

Waltz with Bashir
Directed by Ari Folman
Released December 25, 2008

Last year’s “Persepolis” took the world by storm with its innovative animation and intriguing focus. This year, there’s another foreign animated offering that may draw comparisons. It’s equally interesting in concept and even more fascinating in its execution. “Waltz with Bashir” is Israeli director Ari Folman’s exploration of his repressed memories of the Lebanon War in the 1980s. While it’s a documentary, it hardly feels like one due to its subtle editing and remarkable animation. It’s an unparalleled, incredible visual experience from start to finish, with dazzling colors and backgrounds. Folman is investigating his past, but he’s telling it in a narrative fashion that incorporates moving flashbacks and vivid dream sequences. The choice to make the film as an animated documentary is a fantastic one, as it highlights each of Folman’s memories and is able to illuminate them in detail without trivializing them at all. Though animation might sometimes distract from reality, in this case it draws the viewer in even more with a fully intoxicating experience. The fact that Folman’s recollections and conclusions become overtly political may be problematic for some, but it is an important message that he’s putting forth. Regardless of political feelings, the movie’s form makes it more than worthwhile. The movie’s score is alternately energetic and haunting, and Max Richter deserves enormous commendation for truly enhancing the animation experience. While many will be boasting about how a trash-compacting robot inspired them, “Waltz with Bashir” is really the best animated film of the year. For the moment, it’s only being released in New York City and Los Angeles, but if this movie ever comes to your city, see it right away. Not only is it the best animated film of the year, but it’s probably the best film of the year as well.


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