: Waltz with bashir (9780805086737) : Ari Folman, David Polonsky : Books
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Waltz With Bashir

by Ari Folman, David Polonsky
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Product Details

  • Publisher: Metropolitan Books
  • Publishing date: 17/02/2009
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-13: 9780805086737
  • ISBN: 0805086730


Waltz With Bashir is a gripping reconstruction of a soldier's experience during Israel's war in Lebanon told in graphic novel form. The result is a probing inquiry into the unreliable quality of memory, and a powerful denunciation of the senselessness of all wars. Profoundly original in form and approach, Waltz with Bashir will take its place as one of the great works of wartime testimony.

Questions for Ari Folman and David Polonksy

Q: How did the book Waltz with Bashir come about?

Ari Folman: The project began as a movie, of course, but the film was more influenced by graphic novels than anything else I've seen. I'm a big fan of graphic novels, and books in general were on my mind throughout the whole process, especially Catch 22, Slaughterhouse Five, and The Adventures of Wesley Jackson--novels by writers who'd experienced war and then taken a step back to look at it in an ironic, funny way. So the book version always seemed obvious to me and we worked on both simultaneously.

Q: Why illustration? Why tell this story with comics and animation?

Ari Folman: It gave us total freedom to do whatever we liked. We could go from one dimension to another, from real events to the subconscious to dreams to hallucinations. It gave us the liberty to play with vastly different elements in one fluid story line, with no boundaries, and also to make something visually familiar and tired--war scenes--look entirely new.

Q: In terms of the drawings, what was the biggest challenge?

David Polonsky: The illustrations had to have a sense of truthfulness. I couldn't pretend I was showing things exactly as they were, although there had to be the ring of authenticity. But I had no references for a lot of the scenes--like the one where Ari is in the Beirut air terminal, for example. Besides the fact that as an Israeli I can't go to Beirut, the building itself was demolished and rebuilt. So I had no idea what the inside looked like. But there were some references to work with: the scene took place in the 1980's and the building was from the 1930's, and there was Ari and the impression that all this European modernist splendor would have made on him as a young soldier. We collected old posters for Lebanese airline companies, and those details made their way into the panels.

Q: The story is Ari's, and very personal, but it's drawn by David. How did you work together?

Ari Folman: We went through a lengthy process with many conversations about what we were creating. At first, David found it difficult to take something so intimate, something that came from me, and draw it. I think it's pretty rare that an illustrator inhabits someone else's history for three years of his life. It was hard for me, too, because I can't draw, and that limitation meant I really had to put myself in someone else's hands.

David Polonksy: For me, the difficulty was creating the young Ari of the 1980's, someone I didn't know. There were very few photographs of that period. I had to come up with someone who combined rebelliousness with conformity and a certain innocence...Ari didn't accept the rules of his surrounding framework--and he's still like that--but he nevertheless became an army officer. So I gave him a nonstandard haircut and left him unshaven, which is pretty unusual in the army.

Ari Folman: My mother says he didn't make me handsome enough. And in the present-day drawings, David had to change my hair color all the time--it kept getting grayer. Seriously, David's gigantic achievement is to have captured my character at nineteen years old. I felt no connection to that person and only became reacquainted with my younger self through David's portrayal.

Q: You've insisted that Waltz with Bashir is not a political project, but there's no way to read the book or see the movie and avoid making a connection to politics.

Ari Folman: The point is that I didn't set out to make a movie or a book with a political message. It's above all a personal story. But certain things were very important to me that you might call "political." We went to great lengths to avoid conveying anything about war that might be heroic.

David Polonsky: There was another crucial thing for us, which was to avoid showing the soldiers as victims. There's a phrase in Israel about shooting and crying--we shoot and then cry at our misfortune at having to do it. We didn't want any of that here, no self-pity. There's a clear, simple message: war is terrible.

Ari Folman: Listen, Waltz breaks no news in terms of what happened at Sabra and Shatila. Everyone knows the reported facts and I had nothing new to say. I was interested in the ordinary soldier, his point of view, and in the chronology of his understanding of the massacre.

Q: The book and the movie have come out in the United States at a time when the conflict seems more intractable than ever.

Ari Folman: I'm not that pessimistic. Everyone knows that one day there will be a Palestine. In Israel, most people want to be part of the mainstream of ordinary life. They want to earn a good salary, pay less taxes, take a vacation abroad once a year. They don't want to live by the sword. Look at it this way: I made the movie of Waltz with German co-producers. Sixty years ago, my parents' families were slaughtered by Germans. My parents were the only survivors. What's sixty years from the perspective of history? Nothing, but the change is profound. I've been to the Sarajevo film festival: think what was happening there thirteen years ago and now they live in peace. So it can be done.

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  • Incredible and Universal.
    From Amazon

    This is what real war feels like. Confusing. Shameful. As a soldier in the Iraq war, I felt like the machine had been started by the powers that be. Once the machine is started, it is left unmonitored to do as much damage as possible. It doesn't matter when it stops or where or who it destroys in the process. It is war. You always hear that war is bad. I wish that meant something. Fact is, we will never learn. But there are some of us, Ari Folman included, that know the truth. And we will not be able to smile and go along with things the next time someone decides we need to start the machine.

  • My thoughts on...
    From Amazon

    What do you do when you find yourself in a situation which will potentially drive you out of your mind? What will your brain do? How will your brain rescue your sanity if you realize that you are enabling the carrying out of a horrible crime? Basically, this is what Ari Folman's story is about. For Folman, it comes as quite a shock when a friend mentions horrible nightmares, spawning from his time in Lebanon and it makes Folman wonder, "Why don't I remember any of this?" But then, suddenly, he gets a flash, an image of himself emerging from the sea and walking through the Sabra and Shatila camps. So, he sets off to talk to other people who were in Lebanon with him in order to find some clarity, or truth, of what really happened. Folman uses a friend who is a psychologist as a sounding board for his discoveries, and this friend will partially explain the holes in Folman's memory - if they are indeed holes. As a story of this particular war, it'll break your heart. More importantly though, as a story of what happens to those individuals who are a part of the atrocities that the lucky ones of us only have to experience through TV, it's a criticism that should shake you to the core. A war, any war, does not only take people's lives, it destroys the very soul of mankind. This graphic novel is made in conjunction with Folman's animated documentary of the same name.

  • My Opinion
    From Amazon

    I've read this graphic novel when I was flying home back from Switzerland. I really enjoyed the story, I loved how the graphics are so expressive, the strength of the story, and the art. The way the story showed the Israeli soldier as a victim of terror and guilt is something cannot be believed by anyone watches the news. Their last war on Gaza showed how savage and brutal they are. When the author talks about the brutality of Chritian Militia during the massacre of Sabra & Shatila, I remembered their crimes over the last 60 years. I really loved the scene when the Israeli reporter called Sharon telling him about the massacre, and Sharon said OK we know, and that's it. It is well known that when the Israel failed to kick Palestanians out from Lebanon, they gave the green light to Chritian Militia to do the dirty job. It was under supervision of Israel. Maybe there are some soldiers are not with the crimes that they are ordered to do, but at the end, the soldier by himself, no one forced him, joined the killing machine. The way the author represented the Palestanians who defend their land as terrorists, is something naive. I'm really confused what to give this novel as a rating, because there are many aspects to be judged as follows: 1. Story (without it's credibility) 4 Stars 2. The art 5 Stars 3. credibility 3 Stars I'll give it 4 Stars as overall. Great work, lacks some credibility.

  • Beautifully done!
    From Amazon

    Reading Waltz With Bashir has been an interesting experience. Initially I was under the impression that it was a graphic novel based on a live-action movie, but as I came to learn more of the graphic novel's history I realized that this is a direct film-to-book translation of an animated piece. Each panel is captured from the film and given English dialogue. Despite my general dislike for book adaptations of movies, Waltz With Bashir actually works, because as a graphic novel it is as visually stimulating as a film might be and had an immense impact on me as a reader. Waltz With Bashir follows a man named Folman, one of the authors, actually, who has begun having strange and terrible dreams related to his involvement in the 1982 Lebanon War. But he can't remember anything from the war beyond vague details and sets out to unravel the pieces to finally achieve some semblance of piece in his sleep. In doing so, however, he begins to discover things about himself and the war that he would much rather forget. Waltz With Bashir is clearly an emotional piece, and it successfully strikes home the feeling of regret and terror that comes with war, and especially with particularly bloody ones. While the story never fully completes itself--Folman never recalls his past in its entirety--Waltz With Bashir does give us a detailed glimpse into the world of a modern day soldier in the Middle East. Particularly touching, for me, were the last few pages of the book, which showed real pictures from the events described by Folman in his memories. These are, to say the least, disturbing precisely because they are real images, not doctored or staged photos--at least, I assume they're not staged. The vast majority of us in the U.S. and other Western countries have not experienced the darker aspects of war, and probably never will. Waltz With Bashir, however, is a graphic novel that wants us to see these things; it wants to pull us out of our comfort zones to relay reality. Already I am a fan of this piece. While the artwork has a tendency to be a tad simplistic, the merger of real backgrounds with drawn figures is a welcome change from the more typical styles of comic art. And while Waltz With Bashir may not be science fiction or fantasy, I think readers here will enjoy not only the movie, but this graphic novel, because it manages to do what few graphic novels have done successfully: tell a self-contained, deep, and detailed story that is aware of the psychological conditions of its characters. This one is definitely worth picking up!

  • My inhumanity to you debases even me...
    From Amazon

    Waltz with Bashir, the story of the 1982 Sabra and Shatila massacres is more than just another tale (among way too many) of carnage and death in the mid-east. Rather it's the story of how inhumanity debases us all, regardless of our proxmity to it. In many ways, this book reminded me of its earlier cousin, Maus, also by a Jewish author, Art Spiegelman, and also told in the graphic novel format, a format uniquely conducive to conveying the nightmare aspects of the story...the dead and living made themselves dead for having taken life. In particular it reminded of an exchange between Speigelman and his wife in Maus as they reflected on the significance of the Holocaust. When asked who should mourn the Holocaust and how long they should mourn it, Spiegelman responded by saying, "I don't maybe everyone...forever." Whatever our politics, our common humanity sooner or later reminds us of the value of human life. Waltz with Bashir beats with the fervent hope that that realization comes sooner.

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