Waltz With Bashir

Waltz With Bashir

A Lebanon War Story

Book - 2009 | 1st U.S. ed.
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"Special, strange, and peculiarly potent... Extraordinary." - Variety

One night in Beirut in September 1982, while Israeli soldiers secured the area, Christian militia members entered the refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila and began to massacre hundreds, if not thousands, of Palestinians. Ari Folman was one of those Israeli soldiers, but for more than twenty years he remembered nothing of that night or of the weeks leading up to it. Then came a friend's disturbing dream, and with it Folman's need to excavate the truth of the war in Lebanon and answer the crucial question: what was he doing during the hours of slaughter?

Challenging the collective amnesia of friends and fellow soldiers, Folman painfully, candidly pieces together the war and his place in it. Gradually, the blankness of his mind is filled in by scenes of combat and patrol, misery and carnage, as well as dreams and hallucinations. Soldiers are haunted by inexplicable nightmares and flashbacks - snapping, growling dogs with teeth bared and eyes glowing orange; a recurring image of three young men rising naked out of the sea to drift into theBeirut battlefield. Tanks crush cars and buildings with lethal indifference; snipers pick off men on donkeys, men in cars, men drinking coffee; a soldier waltzes through a storm of bullets; rock songs fill the air, and then yellow flares. The recollections accumulate until Ari Folman arrives at Sabra and Shatila and his investigation reaches its terrible end.

The result is a gripping reconstruction, a probing inquiry into the unreliable quality of memory, and, above all, a powerful denunciation of the senselessness of all wars. Profoundly original in form and approach, Waltz with Bashir will take its place as one of the great works of wartime testimony.

Publisher: New York : Metropolitan Books, 2009.
Edition: 1st U.S. ed.
ISBN: 9780805086737
Branch Call Number: Graphic 956.92044
Characteristics: 117 p. : col. ill. ; 27 cm.
Additional Contributors: Polonsky, David


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sit_walk Nov 13, 2009

The film is probably better. As a graphic novel it feels a bit terse and rushed.

quagga Sep 26, 2009

In 1982, there was a two-day massacre of Palestinian civilians who were living in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Beruit. Lebanese Christian militiamen carried out the killings of men, women and children, while Israeli defense forces controlled the entrances to the camps. Hundreds of refugees were marched out of the camps and afterwards unaccounted for and bodies were bulldozed under rubble in the camps as well, so the death toll is uncertain. The number of dead may be 700 (the official Israeli figure) or as many as 3,500 (the Palestinian estimate).

Ari Folman was an Israeli soldier stationed in Beirut at the time of the massacre. He was barely 19 years old. He had no memory at all of the events, however. It wasn't until 2006, when a friend talked to him of his nightmares that were related to the atrocities of that time, that Folman decided to retrieve his memories and face his own culpability.

Waltz with Bashir was originally an animated documentary. David Polonsky was the art director and chief illustrator for the film. Polonsky's realistic artwork in the book version uses sombre shades of full colour.

Folman explores the senselessness of war. I was reminded of Sunrise over Fallujah by Walter Dean Myers - the way Birdy cannot see any reason or larger purpose in the madness - when Folman's friend Carmi describes the pressure and fear and "shooting like maniacs" at anything they see. At one point, an Israeli officer is watching porno on television. He gives Folman his orders without looking at him, without taking his eyes off the screen: "Listen, we got a hot tip. A red Mercedes is going to explode on your men, so when the car comes, blow it up." Folman asks, "Every red Mercedes?" And the reply is, "Are you some kind of idiot or what?"

Folman is definitely not an idiot. He documents his search for the truth and his own humanity in this very powerful memoir.


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