Waltz With Bashir
Directed by Ari Folman (R)

A soldier’s recollection of the 1982 Israeli-Lebanese war told in animation

Waltz With Bashir “scrambles your notions of what animation and documentary can be,” said David Ansen in Newsweek. In an attempt to treat filmmaking as therapy, Israeli writer-director Ari Folman tried to piece together his “savage, surreal experience” as a soldier in the 1982 war in Lebanon. Using animated illustrations to give life to his conversations with fellow veterans, he conjures a “feverish, infernal beauty” from brutal facts. Animation gives filmmakers the freedom to make “reality more vivid and strange,” said A.O. Scott in The New York Times. By blending “grimly literal images with surreal flights of fantasy, humor, and horror,” Folman goes even further. Waltz With Bashir is a “work of astonishing aesthetic integrity and searing moral power.” Although the extreme stylization at first can seem off-putting, Folman’s reasoning becomes clear by the film’s end, said Tasha Robinson in The Onion. The imagery is deliberately “overwhelming and difficult to grasp” because the situation Folman confronts is, too. Though not a definitive account of the time, Waltz With Bashir is compelling as an “impressionistic portrait and meditation on memory.”