Waltz with Bashir (Vals Im Bashir) (2008)

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Released 1-Apr-2009

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Animation Interviews-Crew-'At the Movies' interview with director Ari Folman
Theatrical Trailer-Theatrical trailer
Trailer-A trailer for Favela Rising
Trailer-A trailer for Jesus Camp
Trailer-A trailer for ScaredSacred
Trailer-A trailer for Walk On Water
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2008
Running Time 86:42 (Case: 90)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (67:47) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Ari Folman
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring Ari Folman
Ron Ben-Yishai
Ronny Dayag
Ari Folman
Dror Harazi
Yehezkel Lazarov
Mickey Leon
Ori Sivan
Zahava Solomon
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $29.95 Music Max Richter
Feller Nili
David Polonsky


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Unknown Hebrew Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)/480i (NTSC)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

Israeli filmmaker Ari Folman has written, directed and produced this haunting, autobiographical documentary of the 1982 Lebanon War. This film had a profound effect on me, normally I would review a film soon after viewing it but this movie required me to reflect on it more, I felt the same way after viewing it as I did after watching Steven Spielberg's Schindler's List (1993) or Terry George's Hotel Rwanda (2004). Be warned, there are extremely graphic images in this film that emphasises an anti-war message, especially at the end of the film, which shows real-life archival news footage of the genocide that occurred against Palestinian and Lebanese civilians at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps. I believe that Folman did this to contrast the events with his personal experience of the war, which are presented in an animated form.

The film was presented in animation form for two reasons. Firstly, to make a live action feature would have proved to be too costly, secondly, the animation is used to support the real theme of the film which is about the veracity of one's memory and it's relationship to trauma. There is a pivotal moment early on in the film when Folman is conversing with his friend, fellow filmmaker Ori Sivan, who quotes a psychological experiment on a group of people who were shown 10 photos of their childhood, all real except one. That one photo was a self-portrait pasted onto a background image. Eighty percent recalled the image as been a true memory, whilst the other twenty percent said they recalled it after prompting from researchers. The point that Sivan makes is that memory is dynamic, if there are holes in your memory of an event, your mind will fill in the gaps, presenting you with a fabricated recollection. Our memories are not like cameras, it is the feeling of a memory that lingers more than the visual or aural data. Similarly, details of a conversation with a friend are likely to be put into the background of your mind, it's the way the person makes you feel after talking to them that has the strongest impact on your memory.

The dilemma at the beginning of Waltz with Bashir is that Ari Folman cannot remember his experiences of the Lebanon War in 1982, where he served as a 19 year-old soldier and he spends the majority of the movie tracking down other people who were there in Beirut to help him fill in the holes of his memory. This is a courageous film in that even though the feature is animated, this film is more real than the great majority of films we view. And although we may not personally relate to participating in a militarised conflict, Waltz with Bashir leaves the viewer with an empathetic connection with Folman's struggle to reconcile his memory with the traumatic events he witnessed in 1982.

The film looks like it has been rotoscoped in the same way that Richard Linklater's Waking Life (2001) and A Scanner Darkly (2006) were from real-life action. Instead, each frame was drawn from photos, a process which took 4 years.

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Transfer Quality

Video

The transfer overall is good with no film artefacts. The film's average bitrate is 7.0 mb/sec which is quite good for a DVD transfer.

The aspect ratio of the film is 1:85:1. It is 16x9 enhanced for widescreen televisions.

There is good contrast between light and dark scenes. There are a few instances of low level noise in the transfer in dark scenes. This may because of the fact that the film takes up 4.4 gb of space on the DVD with few other extras although compression really isn't an issue as the film is less than 90 minutes long.

The animation makes good use of dark hues to emphasise the grim subject matter of war and it's traumatic effect upon the memory of the protagonist of the film, director Ari Folman.

There are no film artefacts present in the transfer.

Subtitles are optional and are in yellow.

RSDL change occurs at 67:42, during a scene transition so it is not noticeable.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

The soundtrack is very important to the mood and theme of the scenes. The soundtrack to the film was composed by Max Richter who blends classical, 1980's electronic and contemporary music to support the reflective, non-verbal sequences of the film.

There is one audio track, a Hebrew (with minimal dialogue spoken in English) Dolby Digital 2.0 track encoded at 224kbps. The film's Australian distributor, Madman Entertainment, mentions on their website link here that a Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound track is included, alas the DVD packaging does mention Hebrew/English Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack instead. This is highly disappointing. As will be mentioned again below, all other releases of Waltz with Bashir worldwide include a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack.

Dialogue is clear and precise and the audio is synchronised with the speech of the actors.

Music plays a pivotal role in supporting the message of the film. It is widely varied from being subtle and sombre to being loud and syncopated, depending upon the scene. This is an excellent soundtrack from composer Max Richter.

Surround Channel Usage is limited to the front two speakers only, although there are good use of stereo effects.

The Subwoofer is not utilised at all on this soundtrack.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Interviews- An Interview with director Ari Folman by David Stratton of ABC1's AT THE MOVIES

This is a short 5:46 interview with director Ari Folman concerning the themes of the film. It was shown on the accompanying segment for the film on the At The Movies show in September, 2008. The video for this interview can also be viewed here transcribed.

Theatrical Trailer (1:49)

The original theatrical trailer of the film utilising dialogue and music from the movie rather than voice-over narration.

Trailer - Favela Rising (2:35)

A Madman trailer for Favela Rising. This extra is non 16x9 enhanced.

Trailer- Jesus Camp (2:11)

A Madman trailer for Jesus Camp. This extra is non 16x9 enhanced.

Trailer - ScaredSacred (2:09)

A Madman trailer for ScaredSacred. This extra is non 16x9 enhanced.

Trailer - Walk On Water (1:46)

A Madman trailer for Walk On Water. This extra is non 16x9 enhanced.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

Waltz with Bashir has been released in Region 2 (France and United Kingdom). It will be released in Region 1 (USA) on the 23rd of June, 2009.

The Region 2 (France) release contains the following:

* Hebrew and French Dub Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtracks.

* Making of featurette - the story of a film by Ari Folman (18:09)

* Deleted scene - the death of Bashir (0:40)

* Ari Folman upsets Cannes (6:43) Ari Folman discusses his film at Cannes.

* From Cannes to Sderot (6:25) Ari Folman presents his film for the first time in Israel.

* Clash of Sabra and Shatila - reportage of news (3:01)Archival news footage of the genocide from 1982.

* The tragedy of Lebanon - Interview with Joseph Bahouf (10:14) This is an interview with Joseph Bahouf who discusses the political and historical context of the film necessary for the viewer to understand the events.

The Region 2 (United Kingdom) release contains the following:

* Hebrew Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack

* Making of featurette

* Interview with Ari Folman

* Deleted scenes

* Original theatrical trailer

The Region 1 (USA) release will contain the following:

* Hebrew and English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtracks

* Q & A with Director Ari Folman

* Surreal Soldiers: Making Waltz with Bashir

* Director's Commentary

* Building the Scenes Animatics

In my opinion, the best version available would be the Region 1 (USA) as that is the only release with a director's commentary.

Summary

Waltz with Bashir represents Israel's first animation feature and it's done in a style more akin to Isao Takahata's Grave of the Fireflies (1988) rather than Walt Disney's Pinocchio (1940). This is an adult feature which explores the brutalities of war and the consequences of those who survive. The young Israeli soldiers (interviewed as middle-aged men later) in the film were aware of what was going on, yet remained powerless to do anything. The film highlights their emotional response to these events twenty years later, some were unaffected, while others had issues dealing with guilt and regret.

In 1961 Yale university psychologist Stanley Milgram conducted a series of experiments on volunteers aimed at testing obedience to authority. He wanted to find out why German soldiers were so willing to carry out atrocities in World War II. He set up an experiment where volunteers were to administer electric shocks to other volunteers if they answered questions incorrectly. They would only stop once they reached the maximum 450 volt shock. Some volunteers resisted but were urged by the researchers to continue. Sixty-six percent of volunteers administered full shocks onto other volunteers. These experiments were continued by other researchers with slight variations, again the results were consistent. In time these experiments were deemed unethical due to the pressure applied on the volunteers, but the same scenario plays out in Waltz with Bashir. At the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps the Israeli army stood by and let the Phalangists (The Lebanese Christian militia) commit atrocities as revenge for the assassination of Bashir Gemayel, the Christian leader of Lebanon. This made the soldiers who witnessed these events, who were obeying orders, feel somewhat responsible for what happened, even years later.

It is a shame that Australian distributor, Madman Entertainment have not released this film onto DVD with more extras or with a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, as the film's soundtrack is superb. Maybe they were unable to do so due to reasons beyond their control , no matter Waltz with Bashir remains one of the finest films to be released in 2008, it is a movie experience that will not be forgotten.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© John Stivaktas (I like my bio)
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S550, using HDMI output
DisplaySamsung LA46A650 46 Inch LCD TV Series 6 FullHD 1080P 100Hz. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderSony STR-K1000P. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
AmplificationSony HTDDW1000
SpeakersSony 6.2 Surround (Left, Front, Right, Surround Left, Surround Back, Surround Right, 2 subwoofers)

Other Reviews NONE
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