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Reading

Waltz With Bashir

Ari Folman's Golden Globe-winning animated film Waltz With Bashir lends itself naturally to graphic novelization, and, to some, the book is even more accessible than the movie.

Book Digest Like Art Spiegelman, I have an aversion to the rubric “graphic novel.” Golden Globe-winning Israeli film Waltz With Bashir was first an animated film and now also exists as a 128-page book (Metropolitan Books)—novel, comic book—do you care? In both iterations it is a powerful story based on Tel Aviv filmmaker Ari Folman’s army experience in Beirut in 1982.

Folman witnessed massacres perpetrated by Christian militia in the Palestinian refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila; 20 years later he had no memory of this horrific crime against humanity. This narrative follows his efforts to reconstruct the events and give sense to the dreams and hallucinations (powerfully rendered by illustrator David Polonsky) that haunt him. Frankly, I prefer the book to the movie—firstly, it is not subtitled. Secondly, the text balloons make it clear who is speaking. And finally, the printed images seem more vivid and connect and flow more coherently. In either version, this weighty story is a potent testimony—not that anyone was ever punished for this genocidal event. Nor was the hollow declaration “never again” heard.
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