Waltzing on the page

Now the graphic novel of 'Waltz with Bashir' version can contend for whatever prize is given out for this medium.

February 26, 2009 10:33
2 minute read.
Waltzing on the page

waltz with bashir book 88 248. (photo credit: Courtesy)


Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user uxperience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew, Ivrit
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Repor
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief

UPGRADE YOUR JPOST EXPERIENCE FOR 5$ PER MONTH Show me later Don't show it again

Waltz With Bashir By Ari Folman and David Polonsky Metropolitan Books 128 pages; $18 Although Ari Folman's Waltz with Bashir didn't win the Oscar, it has collected film festival and critics' awards around the world, and now the graphic novel version of this work can contend for whatever prize is given out for this medium. As you've probably heard by now, the film is an audacious blend of documentary, memoir and rich animated visuals. It focuses on Folman, who served in the IDF in the First Lebanon War and was just outside the Sabra and Shatilla refugee camps in 1982 when the Phalange massacred hundreds of Palestinians. As the film, and the book, open, it's 20 years later. He knows he was near the massacres, but doesn't have any memory of the event, which disturbs him. When he has a drink with a friend who also served in Lebanon and the friend recounts a disturbing (and scarily rendered) dream of dogs running wild, Folman decides he has to reconnect with friends who served in Lebanon until he can remember what happened there. Without the stunning imagery, this most likely would have been a standard talking-heads documentary that would have gotten an 11 p.m. screening on Channel 1. But Folman chose to collaborate with David Polonsky (who is credited as co-author of the novel), an imaginative and gifted artist, who supervised the art direction and animation of the film. The animated visuals have a mesmerizing dreamlike quality that gives every spoken word a far greater impact. The book, which follows the film almost exactly, certainly works as a graphic novel. Like Art Spiegelman's Maus novels, which dealt with recollections of the Holocaust, the book version of Waltz with Bashir tells about a tragic event in a medium associated with Archie and Spiderman but doesn't trivialize it. For some quirky talents who grew up reading comics, graphic novels are the perfect way to illuminate all elements of an experience. But Folman and Polonsky initially gravitated toward film rather than the graphic-novel format for a reason, and the experience of reading the novel is inferior to seeing the film. Without the voices and the sounds, it simply isn't as rich a work. Another aspect of the film that is lost in the novel is movement. Certain incidents that must have happened in real life with lightning speed unfold with hallucinogenic slowness on screen, in a way that mirrors and emphasizes the speaker's perceptions, whereas on the page, they take a panel or two and lose that haunting quality. On the other hand, the novel gains by the fact that you read it at your own pace and can linger over the details of each panel. Even something as simple as a stormy winter night on the Tel Aviv beach is rendered with great beauty and intricacy. The row of corpses laid out to be transported back to Israel is even more disturbing when you can take your time with it. And I found the photographs of the Sabra and Shatilla victims at the end to be even more moving and tragic on the page than on screen, maybe because I've just seen too many news broadcasts. In any case, each detail of Folman and Polonsky's vision can get the full attention it deserves in this printed version.

Related Content