Ron Millennor, Executive Sports Producer
What can you say about a cartoon depicting the atrocities war? How about wow. Waltz With Bashir is that cartoon and it affected me. The story is true and it's told from the point of view of Ari Folman, an Israeli soldier who served during the 1982 Israeli-Lebanese war. More specifically, the massacre of Palestinian women and children at refugee camps as payback for the assassination of Lebanese president Bashir Gemayel (thus the title).
The movie begins with a soldier reliving a recurring dream of barking dogs and morphs into Folman trying to remember what, if any, involvement he had in the massacre. His search for the truth leads him to other soldiers he served with to try and get their take on what exactly happened. Slowly and painfully he begins to connect the dots of what took place. And even though he learns that he wasn't involved in the actual murders he discovers that the Israeli army turned the other way while the horrible acts went down.
The animation actually makes the movie more powerful as it shifts between reality and a dream state...the process is so effective you actually forget you're watching a cartoon. The soundtrack is also another powerful element of this movie, surprising you at every turn. From its light-hearted symphonic music under the tense, gut-wrenching scenes to the punk rock sounds of Public Image Limited, under lighter, carefree images...it's a virtual aural orgy but never disrespectful.
The film was nominated for Oscars in the Best Animation, and Best Foreign Language categories, and rightfully so.
In the end, this story is an examination of the staying power of guilt and just how toxic that guilt can be. The film's final images are a real punch to the gut that will leave you reeling yet thinking, how can this happen? Waltz With Bashir should be high on your dance card.