Three things about this movie stood out to me.
1) The eponymous title scene (about halfway through the film) wherein the IDF “squad leader” attempts to lead his soldiers across a road/square from a ditch in which they are pinned down. He grabs the MAG from a soldier under his command and literally waltzes into the square dancing with the machine-gun in his arms, firing at all the Lebanese, firing on his soldiers. A waltz plays and the light from flares and streetlights illuminates the “squad leader” as he dances his violent death dealing dance in front of an large poster of Bashir Gemyel the Phalangist leader whose 1982 assassination was the spark which led to the massacre.
2) The repeated invocation by the film of the analogous nature between the complicity of IDF soliders to the Sabra Shatila Massacre and the Holocaust atrocities of the Nazi’s during WW II. At one point one ex-soldier being interviewed mentions the visual similarity between one of his memories from Lebanon and the famous image of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising (see below).
3) The sudden return to live action, film footage (actual documentary/news footage from 1982) following the massacre of the Palestinians by the Christian Phalangists. This signals the return to Truth, following the animated, psychedelic muddling through of unreliable memory (the fluidity of and reconstruction of memory being the main organizing theme of the film) and the end of the film.
More on Waltz with Bashir (here)
Essentially this film is about two sets of brothers from the same father. One are the boys he left behind after becoming a Christian and giving up drink. These boys have been raised to hate their father and his new family by their mother. Yet, they are kind and deeply loyal to each other.
The film is set in rural Arkansas and the pacing, scenery and lifestyle depicted are one of good old Americana. Upon learning of the father’s death the boys show up at the funeral and the eldest interrupts the ceremony to defame the father to his new family and spit on the grave.
The rest of the film is basically a family feud in the making, with one son from each family being killed in the process. This and the coming end of summer (when one family’s brother must return to coaching basketball and the other’s must return to college) bring an end to the feud. Both family’s realize that the feud must be left to rest before generations are drawn in.
The film’s themes of brotherly love, loyalty and languid summer days of booze, sun and growing up or moving beyond resonated with me. Even though I don’t have a brother. Although I do have brother(s)
More on Shotgun Stories (here)