215. Waltz with Bashir – from Lebanon to Gaza

Tomorrow, President Obama will meet Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and the Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, bringing the Arab-Israeli Peace Process stuttering back into life.

Let’s wish success to them all as they begin that great endeavour.

Meanwhile, the UN Report on the War in Gaza was finally published last week, reminding me of this brief review that I wrote in March 2009 of the animated film Waltz with Bashir, directed by Ari Folman.

Time has passed since then, but the sentiments still apply.

* * * * *

waltz with bashir 2008 director ari folmanWhat an incredibly timely movie this is — coming so hard on the heels of the recent massacres in Gaza — and it’s the first time I’ve seen the Arab-Israeli conflict covered in any kind of movie, let alone a stunning and inventive animation.

The pointlessness of war — that’s what the film is about. But what makes it unique is its recognition of regret and remorse for the chaos of conflict and the pointless loss of life within a different war.

There have been no Vietnam movies set in this war zone — and as far as I’m aware this conflict hasn’t been treated in many (if any) movies at all.

This isn’t quite a Born on the Fourth of July for disillusioned Israeli veterans. But it is a worthwhile step along that road, and for that reason I hail the film as an outstanding cultural (as well as a purely technical) achievement.

There has been worldwide criticism of Israel’s excessive brutality in Gaza, so cynically timed for the lame duck weeks of the Presidential handover, and a growing condemnation of its obstruction of humanitarian aid ever since.

And yet Israel doesn’t seem capable of seeing the irony of extending self-defence to cover unacceptable civilian atrocities, the murder of children, the virtual imprisonment of an entire people and the use of illegal battlefield weapons.

It’s always hard to influence inflexible and destructive mindsets within a society until that society is willing to look inwards and be critical of itself.

The reflections within this film may then appear as just one small step towards an essential enlightenment within an increasingly isolated nation.

But I wouldn’t for a moment underestimate the significance of this film in offering to open that debate and catalyse the start of that journey.

12 March 2009

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2 responses to “215. Waltz with Bashir – from Lebanon to Gaza

  1. Pingback: 214. Three years of Roads of Stone « roads of stone

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