• Henry Holt and Co.
Waltz with Bashir - Ari Folman and David PolonskySee larger image
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Waltz with Bashir




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Interviewees

Boaz Rein Buskila

Not your quintessential accountant, yet his work is his entire world. Therefore, it was obvious the dream about the dogs coming to kill him had to take place right outside the accounting firm in which he is junior partner. Boaz's request that Ari help him find a solution to his nightmare is a standard pattern in their relationship, a pattern that has been recurring for at least thirty years, as if, according to Boaz's fixed perception, individuals whose business is fantasy are closer to the real world than those whose business is mathematics.  Boaz's obsession with his dreams and his past is very similar to his obsession with mathematics, statistics, numbers of all types and all things that have one absolute truth and which are devoid of various hues. It is for that same reason, that one absolute image a person of his stature should have of himself, that Boaz refused to be exposed in the film and his story is dubbed by a professional actor. Boaz's face in the film is a fiction of directing. In fact, Boaz's addictions are one of the reasons Ari developed the extremely unique format of the film "Waltz with Bashir".

 

Ori Sivan

Undoubtedly Ari's best friend and the person most close to him after his immediate family. Since their mutual adolescence in Haifa, Ori is Ari's personal shrink, what one might call a ready made therapist, always available for problems pertaining to love, friendship, trauma and repressions of any kind. This despite the fact that during the day Ori is a highly regarded director of films and TV series in Israel. This friendship that erupted at the age of 13 took an interesting turn when they went to film school together at the Tel Aviv University and jointly directed their first two films "Comfortably Numb" and "Saint Clara". They collaborate to this day on TV drama series, one of which, "In Treatment", became a reputable remake on America's HBO network. Easily evident in "Waltz with Bashir" is the fact that Ori took the term family to the extreme and he is raising five children in a remote settlement in Israel's western Negev desert.  

 

Carmi Cna'an

Were Ari and Carmi really closer when they were teenagers as opposed to their current relationship now that they're in their mid fourties? Were they as cold to each other as  detached as they appear in "Waltz With Bashir"? Good question. It is doubtful the double encounter in the film can provide an answer. Sometimes separation of twenty years or more dulls a friendship and is liable to blur all the events that occurred to them when they were youths. Carmi went far. He was a genius student in school, a sure bet to succeed in any path he would choose, especially sciences. He chose the new age option, long before anyone knew it as new age. When you think about it today, it is plain to see that in the mid eighties, Carmi was a pioneer. Enraged, he left everything behind and settled in an ashram in India for many years. He perfected and internalized the so called "light buddhism" that Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, a famous guru in the city of Pune, orchestrated for the capitalistic western world, and introduced Central Europe to the gospel from India. What today seems like an obvious path for young Israelis after their military service was at the time considered "committing suicide" and Carmi paid for it in the form of a many year break from his family in Israel. But in recent years Carmi has found a renewed interest in all that he abandoned twenty years before. A Dutch wife and three children have kept him far from the country where he was born and perhaps as a result the renewed encounter with Ari caused him discomfort and unease. At the last moment, two days before the first day of filming, Carmi refused to reveal his face in the film and his story is dubbed by a professional actor.

 

Roni Dayag

Once, forty years ago to this day, when eight contenders ventured out on their own in small sailboats in a merciless race to circle the world, "The Golden Globe",   they were examined by a renowned psychiatrist before and after the race. The psychiatrist used the contradicting term "disturbingly normal" to diagnose the winner of the race, Robin Knox. Johnston, who alone for a year in an eight meter boat no sturdier that a nutshell endured terrifying storms, constant fear of death and schools of sharks hungry for prey. Never the less, Johnston was found  so normal and devoid of trauma that he made the psychiatrist who diagnosed him totally lose faith in the profession in which he was considered a genius. Ronny Dayag's initial reaction upon meeting the researcher of the film "Waltz with Bashir" for a preliminary interview was: "I've been waiting for this phone call for twenty two years, for someone to come and record my story". In every war there are diverse anti heroes, but our Ronny is a "tailor made anti hero"! The man who abandoned the battlefield and swam home in one piece, is a senior nutrition engineer, a doctor of organic chemistry, manager of a huge laboratory at Tnuva, the company that monopolizes the Israeli dairy industry. When the researcher parted with him, totally shocked by his war story, she had but one thing to say about him: he is so normal that I am totally disturbed. The unbelievable story which is concisely conveyed in the film (yet of all the interviewees captures the most time on screen) leaves you deep in thought: how can it be that this man who escaped hell by tooth and nail while death enveloped him came out of the entire affair disturbingly normal. And if indeed he came out in one piece, unruffled, what does that say about us and the small traumas we go through in life which we don't stop complaining about.

 

Shmuel Frenkel

Just before the world premiere of "Waltz with Bashir", Shmuel Frenkel will compete for the first time in the "Iron Man" competition in Frankfurt, Germany. He will swim 4 kilometers, will bike ride 80 kilometers and will top it off by running a full marathon. All this because a simple triathlon or marathon in steaming hot July is not enough for him anymore. Physical challenges evaporate before his eyes. He considers activities involving physical effort and human mental endurance small change. Frenkel remained in the army many years after he danced the waltz at that cursed junction in West Beirut. He specialized in various martial arts, was Israel's champion 8 years running in an eccentric martial art known as "Dennis Survival" whereby two competitors essentially bash each other's brains out until one surrenders. No holds barred! Frenkel is the oldest competitor to ever win the competition and actually started training only after the age of 30. Whoever served in the military with Frenkel is extremely familiar with his wife Miri, who despite strict army regulations was with him throughout his military service, except when he was dispatched on military operations. Somehow, she always found a way to wait for him at the end of the day in his tent, secretly, in the middle of the night, in the most remote locations on the planet. Miri, whom he calls Yoko, was always there. No one figured out how. Incidentally, they are happily married and have five children.

 

Dror Harazi

Dror Harazi had one dream in life and that was to be a military general, like his father, like many members of his family, military men. But somehow fate would have it otherwise and Harazi found himself that cruel afternoon at the gates of the Shatila refugee camp. He was at the front line, with the tank squadron he commanded over. And though he did everything he could to alert people to the situation, eventually he became the system's ultimate victim. The little man, the gatekeeper, the one who is known in Hebrew as the military base sentry, the man who ultimately always pays the price for crimes that men greater than him, much greater than him, are guilty of. Harazi was prematurely retired from the military, with much disgrace, virtually without explanations. It was convenient to blame him, a quiet and passive man who now bears this insult his entire life. It doesn't let go. If only they would have listened to him, hundreds or thousands of lives would have been spared. Harazi considers his participation in "Waltz with Bashir" a necessity, a cry out, another last attempt to tell his story knowing full well that nothing can now change history.

 

Ron Ben-Yeshai

Undoubtedly the greatest and most important Israeli war correspondent of all time, the man who became a genuine legend at the height of his career. Ron Ben-Yishai was wounded three times while covering bloody battles, twice during the War of Attrition in the late 1960s and once in Kosovo. And as if that isn't enough, he was awarded the Chief of General Staff Medal of Honor, the most honorable citation of bravery granted an Israeli soldier, for being caught in heavy Egyptian bombing while reporting for TV during the Yom Kippur War and single handedly rescuing many injured troops. No doubt, the man is a legend! He is seared into the collective Israeli memory with his forty years of broadcasting, from the Six Day War through all the Israeli wars to date, and his reports from Baghdad while blood curdling events occurred in the backdrop of the broadcast frame.  Therefore, it is only natural that Ari remembers him well from West Beirut, walking tall among the bullets, fearless, gazing at hell with eyes open, calm. Supposedly many former Israeli soldiers, throughout too many wars, have the same image of the man. Ron Ben-Yishai paid a high price for the telephone call he made the night he reported to Minister of Defense Arik Sharon on the massacre at refugee camps Sabra and Shatila. Sharon, who preferred to do nothing to stop the massacre that night, never forgot, and for twenty years he made sure that Ron Ben-Yishai would never be promoted to a managerial position at the Israeli National Broadcasting Corps.