Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Capturing (Animated) Reality?

Having recently re-watched Waltz With Bashir, it reaffirmed my opinion that this film should be classed as a documentary in its own right, despite the arguments for documentary as reality, and that documentary should portray reality as closely as possible.

Rather than capturing the happenings of war, the viewer is led into our main protagonist Ari's memories, or initial lack of, his involvement of the Lebanese conflict in the 80's. The film documents Ari's journey to discover the reasoning behind a dream, and his realisation that he remembers nothing about the war in which he was so largely involved.

As a film documenting this journey, animation is used as the perfect platform in which to show us Ari's truth, as the memories and happenings of his time during the war have been blanked from his mind for so many years, and is reliant upon others relaying their tales of the war to him in order to rekindle his memories. Any moments he does recall are influenced by others who fought in the war with him, so there is always an element of uncertainty as to whether this is the truth or not. Using dream like animation with saturated colour allows it to differentiate from other documentaries in not trying to make the viewer believe that what we see on screen is the absolute truth, rather the journey and documentary of memory, and the manner in which the brain perceives events or is influenced by others.

Would anyone disagree that Waltz can be termed as a documentary, because of it's use of animation, or for any other reasons? Does anyone have any ideas on what a documentary film should relay in it's narrative? Personally I prefer films such as Capturing The Friedmans, which accidentally discovered some form of unbiased truth, rather than those with unbalanced and subjective views attempting to persuade viewers to relate and agree with their opinions.


  1. I prefer films that, unedited and unbiased, just put a camera somewhere and film. If it's a documentary, that is. Then, the viewer is left to conclude what happened, why, how, all that.

  2. I wouldn't have automatically classed 'Waltz...' as a documentary, but it's probably taught me more about that conflict than a 'typical' documentary ever could. It's proximity to real-life events is pretty much hammered home at the end of the film, when the animation segues into the news footage. So, yeah, good call.

    Staying on the same theme...'sleep furiously' is a lovely docu about a rural Welsh village which came out last year. Pastoral Aphex Twin-soundtracked goodness, mmmmm.

  3. Simon, absolutely with you in regards to preffering those sorts of documentaries. Problem is you still have to question why the director has included certain parts, why he has placed the camera where it is, and every piece of footage that isn't included, but maybe I am a bit too fussy!

    James, I thought the ending was entirely necessary, as you home it hammered home the point. I enjoyed it because it was a documentary of his memories and recollections of the war, which he knew were not complete, so the animated platform was ideal. Ta for suggesting that docu, I shall search it out and the probably leave it in a big pile of films I keep meaning to watch. Aphex Twin gooooodness, cannae beat it!