Nominated for the Oscar as one of the Best Foreign Language Films of the year, this amazing animated documentary reveals a horrible chapter in Israeli history.
After Jewish people suffered a near genocide during the Holocaust of the 1940s, for them to be accused of committing a similar atrocity in the 1980s is shocking and further shows the brutality and depths of the Middle East crisis.
Filmmaker Ari Folman was, himself, a soldier who served in the Israeli army. He fought in the Lebanese war in the 1980s. His one problem is that he can't remember it. He can't remember fighting in that war. Because of his amnesia, he made this semi-autobiographical film to try to recover his memories.
To learn what happened, Folman decided to go and talk with his friends, fellow soldiers who also served in that war, ask them what they remember, and use that to piece together the puzzle of what he saw during the conflict.
Recent nightmares indicate to him that whatever it was, it couldn't have been good. Perhaps, he doesn't remember because it was too horrible for him to remember. With no archival footage to show, and to avoid making a boring documentary about a middle-aged man sitting and talking to his friends, Folman decided to re-create his memories and the stories his friends told through fantastic animation, invoking surreal pictures.
The film goes into the summer of 1982 following the Israeli army's invasion of Lebanon. Prior to that, Palestinians had been attacking Israel from within that country. Things were relatively under control when, at the end of the summer, alleged Palestinian terrorists assassinated Bashir Gemayel, the recently elected President of Lebanon.
Immediately, Christian forces, formerly under President Bashir's command, took revenge and massacred a large number of Palestinian refugees, including innocent women and children with compliance from Israeli forces.
The UN later condemned this compliance as an act of genocide. Named after the areas where it occurred, the memories and experiences of the so-called Sabra and Shantila massacres are what fuel this film. Folman captures the horror of it in stunning, comic book colors.
Any apprehension one may have will be instantly assuaged, as you become engrossed in the 3-D feeling Folman provides here as well as glorious cartoon-like visuals, which are in contrast to the subject matter.
Five Stars out of Five
In Hebrew with English Subtitles
Rated R for disturbing images, strong violence, brief nudity and a scene of graphic sex
Running Time: 1 hour and 30 minutes.