He remembers that he was yards away from the Sabra and Shatila Massacre that took place in West Beirut, the knowledge of which I embarrassingly and shamefully not aware of. But the audience who will be watching this film have not heard as me and the film while does not give a lecture on what happened unfolds the hallucinations of the forgotten reality from the director. Ari travels and meets with his old friends and comrades whom have taken the trips apart from the defeating life of war. They have become a recluse and have surrendered to the inner guilt. Sometimes the brain made them forget and some time confrontation is all they have got.
Through these people with real interviews and the mixing enactments through the animation, we see the shootings, shelling and slaughter of the innocence, the irreversible guilt, paranoid fear and pure rage. With the power to dispose bullets, it is better to be safe than be sorry. The safe out here is the paranoid and fear surrounding and germinating in the simple objects around them. One of the veterans tells about a non-stop firing on a car which later found to be filled with a nice family. And the director walking in the airport dissolving in to the hopes of being in that place for vacation travel and not for war are an outcry I cannot imagine going through.
The psychologist Zahava Solomon explains about a media man covering the war. She once asked him how he is able to bear the gore and execution of soul in the field standing as a spectator. He mentioned her that he sees them as an image and not in emotions. And I learned that he saw it as a great graphical device to be framed and placed in a newspaper to transport the feeling of that scenario to another person in the world. Something similar to the audience seeing the film. The life span of the emotions is the duration of the film, most of the times. We get back to the road we came and go further or run around in circles but the emotions expire. The media man managed to do that and separate it until the “camera” broke as Zahava puts it.
The animation is the key in telling this story. It is gruesome and affecting which is how it should be but keeps it going to complete the film. It is not a shock value or a spectacle of emotional black mail but how the clan, cult, religion, sect and what not has nothing to do with the past but mere labels to group the atrocities and victimizations. It also symbolizes that what exists in the mere end is the actions and inactions of oneself in a particular part of their life. That is forgotten and convinced in the corner of the mind to be otherwise but sometimes even the dismembered truth is enough to bring back the past. It is very effective in the past we want to forget.
“Waltz with Bashir” has a music which does not move with consistent theme. It uses electronic, orchestration and rock to aid the visual of surrealism better. It is immense and deep when we see the recurring nightmares of Ari about him floating in the sea and walking naked to the shores and getting dressed to see the flares lighting up the skies and the city. That is shown very many times but each time it adds a layer of an emotion based on the lit factors.
I was moved of course and disturbed deeply in the end as expected. But the journey to that abyss of questioning humanism is filled with love for the art of films. In bringing those colours and novel animations for story to be told on the human blunder not in the act but in being stale and non-reactive is a clever and honest presentation. In the film “The Happening” when the gun shots are heard in the far corner of their other group, the wife of the hero asks and shouts for doing something saying “We're not gonna be one of those a******s on the news who watches a crime happen and not do something!” History has written the horrendous acts of the evil doers in holocaust and very many other wars happening in front of us. In “The Reader” a lawyer spits on the inability of his previous generation not to act and simply going along with the Hitler’s crimes. And here in “Waltz with Bashir”, a man along with many had trained his mind subconsciously to forget the silent spectatorship. What can we do when the world is running in one direction and the direction is quite wrong in every possible aspect? Do we run along or take a turn? The answer is in the film and the lifespan of that emotion should extend beyond the screen.