Waltz With Bashir

January 5, 2018 | Author: Anonymous | Category: Social Science, Psychology, Cognitive Psychology
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Waltz With Bashir

History and Memory • Like Persepolis, Waltz With Bashir aims to explore a national narrative • However, Waltz With Bashir accomplishes this exploration through memory – Ari’s personal memories are intertwined with a traumatic memory in Israeli history – Ari’s quest to restore his memories coincides with the desire to restore relevancy to the massacre at the Sabra and Shatila camps

Let’s consider the opening scene...

Let’s consider the opening scene... • Before a dog is shown, the first shot of the film cues us to the fact that something is not quite right with this scene – The only colour in the scene is found in the yellow sky, creating a world that exists between full colour, and black and white. – We are provided with a very tight, low-angle establishing shot, when the typical establishing shot would be wide, high-angle shot – The camera pulls out, whereas in most establishing shots, the camera would push in

Let’s consider the opening scene... • The surreal nature of the opening shot is punctuated by the pack of dogs racing through the street • We are meant to find this scene disturbing because it somehow defies our expectations of reality • It is only when the scene ends that we realize we have witnessed a dream

Dreams and Memory • The first two scenes establish a link between dream and memory – Boaz shot 26 dogs in Lebanon and it is the same 26 dogs that haunt him in his dreams

• Recall that Ori, the therapist, explains to Ari that dreams are directly related to memory

Recall the other dreams

• These scenes are visually similar to the opening • These dreams relate to a traumatic memory • Carmi’s experience on the boat, Ari’s experience at the massacre

• This is one way in which the film explores the theme of mediation

Mediated History • Waltz With Bashir uses mediation in order to consider the slippery nature of memory and history • As dreams bleed into memories, fiction bleeds into fact, and we are not sure where one ends and the other begins

Mediated History and Memory • The dreams are not the only example repressed memory in the film • Ari explains how he repressed the memory of the airport the moment when he first entered it, imagining a place full of opportunity and a chance to escape • The truth is that he cannot escape his place in history • Our minds modify our memory in order to construct narratives that we are comfortable with

Mediated History and Memory • The “literal” waltz in the film is a memory that has become legend over time • The film mythologizes the Waltz through the use of music and composition, putting into question what is real and what is fiction

Mediated History and Colour • The film uses colour to represent the tenuous grip that Ari has on history • The more he remembers, the more colour returns to his reminiscences

Mediated History and Form • In the film, Ari is always close to the truth of his memory/history but it is always out of reach • The mediated nature of the dream creates suspense, because we learn Ari’s role in the massacre at the same time that he does • It’s only when he is able to move past the mediation that the truth is revealed • A similar revelation happens to the audience at the end of the film

Mediated History and Scene • The film also uses subtle visual cues to indicate the slippery nature of history • Note the background in these two shots

Mediated History and Photography • The film also considers the difficulty of capturing memory • Photographs are a common motif found in the film

Mediated History and Photography

Mediated History and Photography • But photographs often fail to capture history accurately or in its entirety • Ari doesn’t recognize himself in the photo • The film also shows us failed attempts to capture history/memory

Mediated History and Reification • This is the “figurative” waltz with Bashir, as the Israelis are complicit by choosing to align themselves with him in Lebanon • The film explores the consequences of turning a man into a symbol • Pictures of Bashir are an oppressive force in the film, and his death is used as justification for the massacres • The truth of Bashir is lost to the propaganda of the mediated images

Mediated History and Medium • Ari Folman shot and edited together a cut of the film with interview footage and re-enactments • That film was then used as reference material for the animators (not rotoscoped!)

Mediated History and Medium • Folman wanted to produce an animated documentary because it allowed him to recreate moments of war that wouldn’t have been possible in a traditional documentary • But the fact that it is animated puts into question the verisimilitude of the documentary • How much of the narrative is invented in service of the documentary?

Mediated History and Medium • The film itself reminds us that film is a mediated experience • The PTSD therapist talks about a patient who viewed the war through a lens in order to cope with the horrors of war

Mediated History and Medium • Televisions are shown to be mediated experiences that can be manipulated • The time lapsed scene when Ari returns home • The mediated experience points to the difficulty of assimilating back into society

• The officer who orders Ari to fast forward through the video

Mediated History and Medium • Ari’s experience as a tank commander is reduced to a video game

Mediated History and Medium • The end of the film removes a layer of mediation and gives us real reactions to the massacre • We enter the film through a dream and by the end of the film, we “wake up” and are forced to face the harsh reality with Ari • It is a reminder that this was a real event and takes us out of the comfort zone that mediation provides •

Also, note how the colours at the end have reversed (from the opening and from Ari’s dream) – yellow becomes the dominant colour as Ari recovers his memory of the event

Conclusions • Waltz With Bashir is partly autobiographical, but is more focused on exploring the massacre at Sabra and Shatila • The film wants us to consider how our memories are mediated • And as our memories are mediated, so is history itself • It’s only when we peel back the layers of mediation can we see the truth of history

Comparisons • Waltz With Bashir pairs well thematically with Redacted as war films that want you to consider how you experience war • The Hurt Locker and Green Zone treat the experience of war from the opposite direction • Both films yearn to reproduce reality and try their best not to remind you of a mediated experience by focusing strictly on naturalistic film techniques

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