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One night at a bar, an old friend tells director Ari about a recurring nightmare in which he is chased by 26 vicious dogs. Every night, the same number of beasts. The two men conclude that there's a connection to their Israeli Army mission in the first Lebanon War of the early eighties. Ari is surprised that he can't remember a thing anymore about that period of his life. Intrigued by this riddle, he decides to meet and interview old friends and comrades around the world. He needs to discover the truth about that time and about himself. As Ari delves deeper and deeper into the mystery, his memory begins to creep up in surreal images. Written by
Animation is not just for children - the French "Persepolis" (about a girl in Iran) made that clear and the Israeli "Waltz With Bashir" (about the invasion of Lebanon) dramatically underlines the point. The Israeli work was written , produced and directed by Ari Folman and is based on his experiences as a soldier and his video of his exploration of the traumatic events some 20 years later. Like any really powerful film, the opening and closing sequences are stunning - but the intervening one and half hours contain so many moving and disturbing images - some simply surreal - that the animation plays in the mind long after the credits have rolled.
The title is a reference to Bashir Gemayel, the newly appointed President of Lebanon, who was assassinated on 14 September 1982 following the Israeli invasion of Lebanon on 6 June 1982. The assassination led the Israeli command to authorise the entrance of a force of approximately 150 Phalangist fighters into the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps, resulting in a massacre of at least 800 civilians. It is this horrific incident that is the emotional heart of the movie and the cause of Folman's mental repression.
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