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
The narrator refers to the transport helicopter as a "Hercules helicopter", which is a confusion of the C-130 Hercules cargo plane with the CH-53 Stallion helicopter, the latter being the true transportation device. See more »
The song used in the film, "This Is Not A Love Song" by Public Image Ltd., came out in 1983, even though the war and the massacres depicted in the film happened in 1982. See more »
After the 1982 invasion of Lebanon, I lost my memory. Now in order to remember, I am looking for those who can never forget.
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Ari Folman first movie was a great promise, but more than a decade passed since then and with only one feature film, and several TV series on the record his career seems to be stagnating at best. Here he comes now with a film that is so sharp, surprising and different - one of the best Israeli films ever in any genre.
Choosing to do an animated feature about the beginning of the first Lebanon war in 1982 and the collective trauma and amnesia caused by this war to its heroes - young soldier torn down from their first world life to be thrown in the violent absurdity of war - and the whole Israeli society is both a daring and natural thing to do. Daring because this film is after all a documentary about the search to the lost memory of the director about his own presence in war, and the journey to recover it by means of interviews with his fellows in arms. The real life persons are recorded while giving the interviews while extremely accurate drawn images play the visual role (one of the persons interviewed is a famous journalist showing up often on TV). As realist as these scenes are, it is hard to imagine how difficult it would have been to bring on screen the fighting scenes, or to play the trauma of the young boys shown into a terrifying and nightmarish reality. So animation was the right and natural choice. Without using special or expensive effects, the dreams and nightmare scenes are both catching and terrifying, reflecting the traumatized souls of the dreamers (one won't forget easily the opening scene).
Yet, the message of the film is far beyond the personal message. When dreams (or better said nightmares) dissipate the deep-buried reality gets back - the massacres in the Palestinian camps become real on screen, and this is the only place where Folman uses fragments of filmed material rather than animation. The nightmare became reality and its a grim one. Without ever leaving the personal and emotional plans, the political statement about a war with no winners is made loud and clear without the need of being explicit.
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