Waltz with Bashir: Cartoon documentary about Lebanese war is no caper

Waltz with Bashir is an animated documentary (trailer is here) telling the story of Israeli soldiers fighting the Lebanese War of 1982. Screened in competition at Cannes this year, it is being touted as the first feature-length animated documentary. The Times (of London) has called it “a voyage of discovery into Folman’s uncharted subconscious,” as it deals with the suppressed memories of those fighting in the war.

Software is so lowering the cost of animation that the barriers to making it continue to fall. Using animation in documentary also allows you to portray things, like memories, that you can’t with ordinary footage, it also offers the opportunity to stage things the camera missed first time around. Will Kim’s In Search of the Colors (above right), for example, uses various hand-drawn and painterly animation to tell a story drawn from his own experiences at a home for people with developmental disabilities. While the work of east London’s Bold Creative uses animation to tell stories straight the mouths of British teenagers. They told me that this approach – recording the kids’ voices but animating their faces later – allows the kids to open up much more, not least because they know they are not on camera. We have seen some extraordinary comic books dealing with complex adult issues in recent years. It looks like their animated relatives are following suit.