Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Watlz With Bashir: Movie & Book

I'd heard about the award-winning animated film Waltz with Bashir, but until I read the piece below in the Shelf Awareness e-newsletter, I did not know there was also a book version available!

Waltz with Bashir: A Lebanon War Story by Ari Folman and David Polonsky (Metropolitan Books/Holt, 9780805088922/080508892X, $18 trade paper, February 2009)

Adapted from the Academy Award-nominated animated film, Waltz with Bashir stands by itself as a brilliant graphic memoir in its own right, just as thrilling, gorgeous, thought-provoking and humanitarian as the movie. Using the framework of the original storyboards but with stills from the final art of the film, frame for frame the book is a production of love, a moody masterpiece of art styles and narrative sophistication.

It's the true story of Ari Folman's attempt to regain lost memories. When a friend tells him about a recurring war nightmare, Folman realizes that he's forgotten his role in the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon. He begins searching for fellow classmates who might remember what he did there.

His journey back into his own past leads him, one by one, to six other men haunted by memories, men who were once well-meaning young soldiers uncertain who they were fighting against, who they were shooting at or what city they'd landed in, but not daring to stop firing. The soldiers' stories within stories slowly lead Folman to remember what really happened, to memories he's kept buried for 20 years of the day the Israeli troops began to realize they were participating in a genocide.

Waltz with Bashir is a visually rich, harrowingly honest look at Folman's re-discovery of his traumatic past. It grapples not only with enforced military participation in evil and its psychological after-effects but also with memory and its devious betrayals.

Besides which, the book is simply gorgeous, a visual feast, every bit as full of impact as the film. All it lacks are the film's haunting musical score and the visceral impact of the film's opening 3-D sequence, the attack of the 26 dogs, certainly one of the most electrifying credit sequences in years. In all other respects, the excellent book and movie complement each other perfectly; you'll want to experience both.--Nick DiMartino

Shelf Talker: A brilliant graphic memoir, thought-provoking and humanitarian, by an Israeli who took part in the 1982 Lebanon invasion.

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