December 17, 2008

Gen. Director

This is from an interview with Ari Folman, director of Waltz With Bashir. EYE Weekly (Dec 11 2008) describes the animated documentary as a "stunning enquiry into the psychological after-effects of combat, as experienced by himself and other veterans of Israel's first war with Lebanon in the '80s."
Q: Movies like Persepholis and Waking Life have expanded ideas about animation, memoir and documentary in recent years. Did you look to any of these as models for Waltz With Bashir?
A: No, I was mostly influenced by books I read when I was younger: Joseph Heller's Catch-22, William Saroyan's Adventures of Wesley Jackson and Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five. All those books take a step backward and see war as this surreal, absurd, sometimes funny thing. And they're all by storytellers who were there. I think that makes a whole lot of difference. Sometimes with movie directors, they direct these big anti-war movies but they haven't been there and it's easy for them to fall in love with war. It's because they're like big generals on the set — they say "Action!" and five helicopters fly over and burn everything. In terms of ego, they go through the same experience as those generals, I think. That's why a lot of anti-war movies are not really anti-war movies — they put the glamour of war out front.

Q:The other thing that happens in movies is that wars get defined by heroic narratives rather than the more troubling and confusing experiences.
A:Yes, they want everything to be about manhood and brotherhood and valour and glory and sacrifice. I was completely not interested in that. The response I got from many people back home was that the most symbolic shot in the film, the one that represented war better than anything else, was the one of the armed vehicle going through the night and the soldiers shooting like crazy into the darkness without knowing where or why. A lot of people told me that's what war was like for them.

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