This is one of the most unusual and intriguing movies I have seen in a long time. Directed by Ari Folman, in Hebrew with subtitles, it is a sort of documentary/memoir about his experiences as a soldier during the 1982 Israeli-Lebanese war, and his search 25 years later for memories of that time that he has somehow lost.
The movie is animated in a graphic-novel-like style, which is the perfect medium for a story about the interplay of fact and fantasy. Captured in lines drawn by hand are questions about memory and dreams and how they relate to actuality. “Memory is dynamic. It’s alive,” says one character.
The animated version of Folman goes on a quest to rediscover what he did and saw during the war, visiting men he served with and listening to their stories. Together he and viewer visit the lands of their nightmares. Barely political, predominantly psychological, the film explores how people live with their memories. Folman ends the film having remembered all that he managed for so long to suppress, and you are left to wonder what he will do with the knowledge.
This film must be part of the answer. It’s heavy stuff, and yet oddly enjoyable. The animated style is original and the music that accompanies the images melds so well – a mix of neoclassical and ‘80’s British art-pop. (No, I’m not that clever – that info I picked up from an NPR.com article!) One thing I liked especially about the film was that the music lasted long after the credits had finished rolling, giving me time to catch my breath and collect my thoughts.
We’ve been playing this film at Reel Pizza Cinerama since Tuesday, and to my disappointment it’s been one of the least attended films I’ve ever witnessed. Not sure if it’s the subject matter, or the fact that it’s animated that is throwing people off, but I was very impressed with the film and recommend seeing it.
(I would have watched it anyway, but I saw this movie specifically for the Orbis Terrarum Mini Film Challenge. )