Socialist Worker

Waltz With Bashir: Reliving nightmare of Israel’s 1982 war on Lebanon

by Despina Mavrou
Issue No. 2129

Waltz With Bashir

Waltz With Bashir


Waltz With Bashir is a film that highlights the horror of war.

Director Ari Folman sets out to find his missing memories from the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982.

He was a 19 year old soldier in the Israeli army at the time, and he knows that he was sent to fight in Lebanon.

He has an idea of who was with him at various points, but his memories are patchy.

Folman got the idea to make this animated documentary after a conversation with a friend, who explained that he had been having a recurring nightmare connected to his time in Lebanon.

Folman then sought out and interviewed friends and fellow conscripts to find out if they knew where he was at the time.

All paths led to September 1982 and the massacre at the Palestinian refugee camps of Sabra and Shatilla, carried out by Israel’s allies in the Lebanese Christian Phalangist militias.

There are many elements of this film that make it an extremely important work.

The picture of Beirut in 1982, painted so masterfully, is of a city that was once buzzing with life, but which has been destroyed by war.

The psychological effect of war on soldiers – highlighted by Folman’s memory suppression and by his friend’s recurring nightmare – is also brought across powerfully.

There is also the realisation of what war means for teenagers who have little or no choice but to be part of it. I grew up in Cyprus, where army service is mandatory.

Eighteen year old boys, barely out of school, are dragged into army camps, stripped of their identities (and hair) and force-fed nationalism, jingoism and hatred.

I’m sure this was true of 1980s Israel, and of a state that continues to oppress the Palestinians today.

I was a young child in 1982, yet I remember the images of Palestinian women crying on the news.

I remember the word Beirut being used as a synonym for chaos and destruction.

Waltz With Bashir is an anti-war film, and you need to go and see it.

Waltz With Bashir
Directed by Ari Folman
Out now


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Tue 25 Nov 2008, 18:29 GMT
Issue No. 2129
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