The PLO (the Palestine Liberation Organization) had its base in Jordan until 1970, but after severe conflict with the Jordanian army,it moved its headquarters to Lebanon. The PLO activists were followed by hundreds of thousands of Palestinian civilians. Soon all the existing refugee camps in Lebanon were overcrowded with them. PLO terrorists began infiltrating Israel in March of 1978. The culminating point was murdering an American tourist who walked near an Israeli beach and then hijacking a civilian bus. The terrorists used it to shoot through the windows as they traveled in it down the highway. That story ended with 34 hostages dying in the attack. Israeli troops crossed Lebanon border to overrun terrorist bases and that was the beginning of the war.
Waltz With Bashar
The film is an animated documentary, which is based on real events that occurred during the 1982 war. The theme of Sabra and Shatila massacres is especially vivid in the film since all the events revolve around the actual acts of massacre that take place
at the end. The plot is built on the story told by Ari Folman who was a 19-year-old soldier serving in the Israeli Army in the time of war. Twenty four years later, in 2006, he meets with an old friend from his army service time, who shares with Ari about the nightmares associated with his experiences from the 1982 war. Folman has no memories of the war as if his mind had been wiped clean of all the events related to that period. Folman has a vision from the night of the massacre that took place in Sabra and Shatila. He sees his soldier comrades and himself bathing in the sea in Beirut at night. And this scene is repeated through the film.
Folman goes to meet his childhood friend and he recommends him to find other people who were deployed in Beirut at that time so that he would understand what had happened and would be able to revive his memories. Through a series of meetings, Folman is able to speak to a number of friends and other soldiers who share their impressions and memories of the war. He also speaks to the psychologist Zahava Solomon and the journalist Ron Ben-Yishai, who covered the Beirut events from the Israeli side. Finally, Folman comes to the realization that he was involved in the operation, assisting the Lebanese Christian militia to perform the cleanup of the refugee camps, which turned into a massacre. He and other soldiers fired flares into the sky in order to illuminate the camps, while the militia soldiers perpetrated massacre. Folman ultimately realizes that his amnesia resulted from the guilt feeling of being indirectly involved in the massacre and also from his childhood trauma since he was a son of a Holocaust survivor in World War II. The film ends with the actual footage showing the massacre consequences.
Impression of The Film
Waltz With Bashar is a great movie. Even though it covers such controversial and difficult themes as war and death, it still leaves a very good impression with the viewer. The film is a good description of that particular time period. It complements the picture of the 1982 war with very personal details. Ari Folman created a great anti-war documentary that reflects both Israeli and Palestinian feelings. It is amazing how the filmmaker is able to display the reality of war in an animated film, which, at the same time, retains the realistic nature of the events. The producer hides nothing. He does not portray Israeli soldiers as out-of-this-world heroes and simply relays their impressions of the war. Some scenes strike as very dramatic. One of them is a story told by a soldier who was in a tank when his unit entered Lebanon on the first day of the war. His tank was blown up on a landmine and all his comrade soldiers were killed while trying to escape it and abandoning their arms in the havoc that followed the explosion. That soldier was the only crew member who survived, hiding behind a rock at the seaside. The producer was able to portray the image of a young man who was absolutely dispirited and intimidated after seeing his comrades-in-rams die almost in no time. He also describes his guilt feeling when he attended his friends’ funeral.
Another scene depicts an Israeli unit entering the war-torn Beirut in order to eliminate terrorists. They experience a burst of fire from the terrorists who hold their positions in inaccessible multi-storey buildings. Everyone is pinned down to the ground in order not be killed, unable to remove their wounded comrades from the open area. It is when they see the famous Israeli journalist Ron Ben-Yishai who walks openly in the fire with his cameraman taking the scene footage. And then a soldier named Frenkel grabs a machine gun from another soldier’s hands and starts dancing with it in the open area, shooting in all directions. The “camera" shows a huge portrait of Lebanon’s President Bashar, hanging on a building behind him. That is one of the most impressive scenes in the film, which relays its main message and hope: for Israelis – the hope for the end of the war and for the Lebanese – the hope for a highly respected leader to resolve the conflict. Unfortunately, it never worked: President Bashar was assassinated and the war dragged on for many years devastating Lebanon and keeping the Israelis in continuous tension that has not been completely relieved to this day.
The soundtracks are great. The music is mostly soft and stays in the background. It is only in some scenes that it becomes tense and rhythmic. Soundtracks go very well with the script, producing the desired effect with the viewer. The film appeals aesthetically since it touches such sensitive themes as war and death with a very skillful approach that does not leave anyone indifferent. Despite the fact that the film is animated, the actors look natural. Many characters are based on real life figures that share their impressions of the war. This film can be recommended to adult viewers only since it contains scenes of violence and sex. However, the film would be interesting for a wide range of viewers.