For decades, Israeli filmmaker Ari Folman had no specific memories of his involvement in the 1982 Lebanon War. But when the long-suppressed images did come back, they returned in a flash – and formed the basis of the stunning animated documentary Waltz with Bashir (opening in L.A. and New York City next week, and nationally in 2009).
Much of the film’s action is based on Folman’s interviews with Israeli veterans, and the bloody reenactments and audio verité soundtrack are more thought-provoking – and horrific – than the talking heads in conventional documentaries, or the faked combat scenes in Hollywood productions. It all builds to the massacre of Palestinian civilans – by Christian Phalangist militiamen – at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in September 1982. Haunted by his memories of the camps, Folman chooses to end the film with actual video footage of the horrific aftermath. But whatever the medium, Waltz with Bashir devastates.