Sunday, February 08, 2009

Two Docs

Both dealing with very horrific experiences but in different ways.

Waltz with Bashir is getting numerous awards and buzz, some of it due to the unusual nature of it being an animated documentary (Wikipedia, IMDB, web). It explores the remembered, misremembered, and forgotten experiences of Israeli soldiers during the invasion of Lebanon and the Sabra and Shatila massacres. The name Bashir in the title refers to the Phalangist leader Bashir Gemayel whose assassination led in part to the tragedy explored in the film.

Trouble the Water (IMDB, web) is another doc dealing with tragedy: Hurricane Katrina and the vicious aftermath. Using footage shot by a survivor (Kim Rivers Roberts) who decided to stay when the storm hits, the film shows the utter devastation caused by the natural force of the hurricane. As we all know, the destruction caused by human ignorance, neglect, unpreparedness, and hubris turns out to be far greater. Following the survivors both during and after the storm results in a fantastic story that everyone in America should see.

Of the two I think Trouble the Water is the better film. Bashir deals with horrific experiences, but in the reliving and retelling of them. There appears to be no consequences to the exploration of memories of a horrific event, and apparently little long term repercussions to those who witnessed them besides bad dreams and memory gaps. In Trouble the Water, the repercussions are real and immediate, both good and bad. Although the plight of poverty and racism taints the entire Katrina event, there still appears in this film a thread of hope. Bashir never transcends its animated reimaginings, and in fact, abandons the them at the end, something that I think arguably concedes that the way they were used is flawed.

Still, I highly recommend both films. Both are nominated for Oscars, although in different categories, so they both could win.

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