on July 10, 2009
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!
on May 25, 2009
This is a moving story related in the graphic format that is best known in comic books but has recently come into increasing use for serious novels and novelettes. The subject is an important one, based on real events in Lebanon in 1982. The principal protagonist and many of the other charactrs are Israelis who were performing their required military service at a time when Israel invaded Lebanon. Sent into Lebanon with little or no understanding of why, they soon found themselves ordered to shoot blindly in various directions, which at first they did with careless abandon. Gradually, however, they became aware that they were killing unarmed women, children and others. Many of these young Israelis suffered afterward from serious psychological problems. For the lead character, the result was complete loss of memory of what he was doing during that period, and the story is developed around his efforts, many years later, to recover that memory by talking with others who were in Lebanon at that time. That is the unfolding story of this graphic book, and it is not appropriate for me to disclose more of it here, or to say who Bashir is except that Bashir is not the protagonist's name.
This work is powerful. For those not familiar with the events in Lebanon at that time, it is an intense way to gain some understanding of them, perhaps leading to more traditional book reading to get a broader historical picture. For those who do know the history quite well already, it is a vivid reminder of what is behind more recent happenings involving Israel and Lebanon. The story makes no mention of the U.S. role at the time, which was quite significant.
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.
on August 24, 2009
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.
on May 6, 2010
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.
on September 6, 2010
Disturbing images of the Lebanese War including the massacre of Sabra and Shatila. Not for the faint of heart.
on January 20, 2013
I found the book "Waltz With Bashir", since the film version is adapted from the graphic novel, to be one of the best true statements about war. With countless devastating, illegal and unnecessary conflicts spread about the world there is none (by soldiers from different observation positions) better than an eye-witness account. In near mint condition the book references the film virtually scene by scene.
on August 6, 2014
Superb, searching story that tries to explain as much about the human condition as it does about the horrors of war. The art accompanying the story brings the narrative to life in a new and unique way. Would absolutely recommend!
on May 18, 2013
The book itself is really nice, is a good work but the story I think was more deeply not just an another "story about", but the price was amazing!!!.
on April 23, 2015
Superb treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder and "postmemory." Highly recommended. J. Incledon