Saturday, January 3, 2009

Film Review: The Waltz of Bashir

by Eric Green

A lot has been written about the devastating Lebanese civil war and the war that Ariel Sharon, as defense minister of Israel, conducted in Lebanon. This review cannot begin to describe and analyzed that history. But, that doesn't mean there aren't serious universal lessons that this great film can teach war promoters and peace activists.

This film comes from the heart and mind of a soldier sent off at the age of 18 to fight a war that he knew little if anything about. And, once in that war to become part of a genocidal massacre that he buried in his mind for over 20 years.

This film is not made easier to watch with its use of animation to provide the facts and human roll that tool place in the Palestinian refugee camps in Southern Lebanon. These camps date from 1948 and continue to exist today under extremely poor economic conditions. The voices of the animated soldiers are the real life voice of soldiers caught up in that war. The memories of these Israeli soldiers create the script for this film.

The story is the accepted fact that Israel troops allowed or gave the go-ahead to the ultra right wing Phalanges of Lebanon to enter and commit mass murders of Palestinians in their refugee camps. The Phalanges, in their twisted minds, were revenging the assassination of Bashir Germayel their newly elected and then assassinated leader of Lebanon. They blamed the Palestinians and their organization, the PLO. So, they took revenge on defenseless woman and children. Given their rabid opposition, at the time, to the PLO, by Sharon and the Israeli military, the Phalange attacked suited their goals.

Ari Folman, the creator of this film has done a brilliant job in the films writing, direction and just about everything else. You might remember Folman as the creator of the popular Israeli psychiatric, therapy television show. It was adapted and became a smash hit in the US. Gabriel Byrne played the therapist. In the Israeli series, one of the patients was a soldier with dire dreams of killing innocent civilians. Now, after seeing this film, that episode as reported by the Israeli press was probably about incidents depicted in his current film.

It is certainly a coincidence that his film was released in the US at the very time that Israel launched its current murderous attack on Gaza, an attack that has been roundly condemned around the world. That air attack is not a ground invasion.

The Lebanese war came in the midst of the US presidency of Ronald Reagan; and, the current Israeli war is taking place as a violent postscript to the genocidal war in Iraq brought by the Bush/Cheney regime.

Bush's Secretary of State Condolezza Rice was in Tel Aviv just a few days before this attack was launched. Is there a connection?

Remember, that this massacre took place in June, 1983; and, just a few months later, October 23, 1983, a US military barracks was bombed in Lebanon and 241 servicemen were killed.

The film was produced in Israel and was released there in June of 2008.

The film has been nominated for the US Golden Globe Awards; and, will surely get the recognition by the Academy Awards voters. It is actually the official Israeli submission to the Academy Awards.

This is a must film to see either before or after your on your way to a demonstration opposing the Israeli air and land invasion of Gaza; and, menacing activities in the Left Bank. And, as this review is being completed, the Israel government is warning, if not provoking, the Hezbollah if Lebanon.