Israeli filmmaker Ari Folman has managed to combine the deciduous canvases of the extraordinary and painful in the autobiographical documentary of his life and the adventure of self-realization through the past with Vals Im Bashir / Waltz with Bashir. Most films come with a sad factor of divagation in the main storyline to make something appear to be of certain strength, asserting itself through the plot of the entire picture. The beauty in Waltz with Bashir is an unmatched and epicurean revival into the tragedies of the Lebanon War.
Often the times of war place someone into a mindset of fallacious reasoning. Waltz with Bashir is essentially a journey that Folman places the viewers in. It’s not a detached experience as one later learns. Folman was a soldier in the Israeli army during the gruesome Lebanon war, taking place on the duty in which a slaughter, referred to as “the massacre”, took place on the Palestinians by Lebanese Christian Phalangist militia at Sabra and Shatila. Right from the beginning, Folman makes us extremely interested in the isochronal parts of his memories. Boaz Rein-Buskila, voiced by Mickey Leon, is a long time army friend of Folman that has terrible nightmares about 26 dogs, essentially the apex to the journey into the highly erratic confines of Folman’s mind. Folman inveterately puts off that he does not remember the war experience. He does not find this shocking but interesting to start. To get to the bottom of his detachment, the filmmaker engages on a therapeutic mission with others that were with him throughout the times when the skies were mostly orange and filled with forgotten memories.
There is one critical thing to be mentioned with the masterpiece that Waltz with Bashir assumes: that we are not a part of the film. Rather, the war becomes a part of us right from the start. The encyclical dream of the 26 dogs — the unrealized metaphor to trauma to the very end of the film in the image that art director David Polonsky and Folman imprint in our conscious. Folman eventually becomes engaged with the very power that the subconscious displays throughout the film, and the viewers will find themselves just as obsessed in the munificence of the art of storytelling.
Waltz with Bashir is the definition of existentialism as the idea of its own riveting story. What a human does when the horrifying view of the past becomes entirely overwhelming for everyone involved: to forget and not perceive it as reality. Through exploring the perceptions of what the mind is as opposed to the line that separates it from reality, Waltz with Bashir leaves an indelible mark on everything.
By the end of the film, it’s hard for anyone to be detached to the story and the photography that leave me surprised. Of course, when it is all over, everyone walks out of the screening and carries on with life just to live it the way that Folman did once: in passing and temporal existence. But there’s one key difference to an audience, or to that one person that watches this film out of interest alone: they have experienced the war. To a degree, Waltz with Bashir is not just a detective tale—it’s a beautifully harrowing experience that you take with you.