February 09, 2009

Waltz (Not Kenneth)

Yesterday, I went to see Waltz with Bashir. It was, as expected, pretty amazing. The entire audience stayed in their seats at the end to watch the credits. I myself had trouble, in church later, not thinking about the film. It was that haunting. (The film, that is.)

Lebanese and Palestinian viewers (and others), however, might be disappointed by how "Israeli-centric" the film's portrayal of the Sabra and Shatilla massacre was. The Israeli film-maker had every right to tell the story from personal and Israeli perspectives. But at the very end, when the Palestinian woman is screaming "wayn al-'arab?!" (a pretty damning lament -- where are the Arabs?) they didn't even bother to include subtitles, so I have no idea how many in the audience knew what she was screaming or knew it had nothing to do with the Israelis.

The reason I mention this is that if you happen to have seen and enjoyed the film and are looking for a companion piece, check out the Lebanese-German film Massaker, which is a series of interviews with some of the Phalangist gunmen who actually carried out the killings. It is powerful stuff. I saw it several years ago, in 2005, in Beirut.

For the rest of you, check out the second installment of Tom Ricks' The Gamble in today's Washington Post. Also note the online discussion that will take place today, at noon, between Tom and Steve Biddle.

David Kilcullen, Petraeus's counterinsurgency adviser, concluded that just as the Iraqis had stared at the possibility of full-blown civil war that year but ultimately turned away, so, too, had the American public considered a leap into the unknown -- and stopped short.

"America," he said, "has taken a deep breath, looked into the abyss of pulling out and decided, 'Let's not do it yet.'"