Saturday, 18 February 2017

World Cinema: Israel - "Waltz With Bashir" (2008) Film Review

Fig 1

Ari Folman’s “Waltz With Bashir” (2008) is an Israeli animated film featuring the shocking events of the Lebanon War in 1982, including the massacre of hundreds upon thousands of innocent civilians. The director hadn’t worked in animation before, however the unique visual of this animation captures the story very well, as Roger Ebert describes: “Folman is an Israeli documentarian who has not worked in animation. Now he uses it as the best way to reconstruct memories, fantasies, hallucinations, possibilities, past and present.” (Ebert, 2009) 

Fig 2

The film originates from Israel, and the animation traits show this country in the form of: the setting, the voice actors accents, the portrayal of the Lebanese war and the origins of the director. The style itself is similar to that if a comic book, and uses a lot of black tones, subconsciously adding to the grim and dark events. “Waltz With Bashir” is also shown as a documentary/ autobiography animation, with the lead character, Folman himself, trying to piece together his memories and remember what events took place. As Roger Ebert describes: “with Folman visiting old army friends and piecing together what they saw and remember. The freedom of animation allows him to visualize what they tell him -- even their nightmares. The title refers to an Israeli soldier losing it and firing all around himself on a street papered with posters of the just-assassinated Lebanese President Bashir Gemayel[…]” (Ebert, 2009) 

Fig 3
 Folman also has a reoccurring dream which doesn’t seem to make sense, as described by Anthony Quinn: “What keeps replaying in his head is a nocturnal image of himself and his comrades rising out of the sea, in front of them the city of Beirut lit by the sulphurous glow of rocket flares. There's an air of indefinable menace, but the exact meaning of the image isn't clear. It chimes with the hallucinatory experience of the conflict itself […]” (Quinn, 2009) It seems as though it’s his memories trying to recall itself, but also replaying the disorientation he experienced, so the dream is a subconscious blockage in his memories. 

Fig 4

The ending is what hits the audience hard, as it shows real footage of dead bodies piled upon one another, and Roger Ebert asks the question: “how and why thousands of innocent civilians were massacred because those with the power to stop them took no action. Why they did not act is hard to say. Did they not see? Not realize? Not draw fateful conclusions? In any event, at the film's end, the animation gives way to newsreel footage of the dead, whose death is inescapable.” (Ebert, 2009)

Waltz With Bashir” is indeed a unique animation that sets aside the usual traits of animation being for entertainment and to be watched for fun, it does more educating and makes the viewer realise the intensity of the Lebanon war. 


Bradshaw, P. (2008) (Accessed on 18/02/2017)
Ebert, R. (2009) (Accessed on 18/02/2017)

Illustration List 


  1. There is a lot of what everyone else thinks in your review...What did you think of the film Manisha?

  2. FYI!

    Many thanks :)