In his commentary on Waltz With Bashir, Ari Folman says that animated drawings are no less real than movie images with actors. Folman talks about his experience raising money for the film. He went to a festival in Canada where he pitched the project to people from the industry. Almost everyone said that he should make a regular movie. Drawings, people thought, simply aren’t the real thing, and an audience wouldn’t be able to connect to them.
I am a hundred percent on Folman’s side. What’s so real about an actor, artificial lighting, a crew of technicians, and so on, and the resulting projection/pixels on a screen? Nothing. That kind of ‘reality’ was anyway never the point. What matters is reality in a different sense: images that evoke in people a connection with the experiences of others, a connection that enables them to see the world from someone else’s point of view, and to see that this point of view isn’t altogether unrelated to their own lives. Drawings, for me, can be very real, at least if they are done as in Waltz With Bashir.
Interestingly, the protagonists and even the minor characters in Waltz With Bashir are, in some sense, real people: they are friends and acquaintances and team members, video-taped and then drawn. But Folman didn’t simply convert video-tapes into animation. He took the characters and developed them. In his monochromatic color schemes, the characters become more rather than less real. Yellow is how hard it is to go through things. Orange is how wild and crazy it is. Blue is how much it might as well have been a dream. Or the other way around. Anyway, I continue to be a fan of Waltz With Bashir: five stars*****!