Waltz with Bashir's Animated Traces: Troubled Indexicality in Contemporary Documentary Rhetorics

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademic


Contemporary documentary practices are strongly challenged by growing suspicions of the cinematic claim to truth by indexical capture – the notion that footage objectively captures traces of the past is becoming increasingly less convincing.
Under this light, this paper re-examines Waltz with Bashir (Ari Folman, Israel 2008), a groundbreaking animated documentary, and its unique slew of strategies for making powerful non-indexical truth claims about the reality of war experiences and the creative, post-traumatic ways in which they are remembered.
Waltz with Bashir‘s final sequence, which cuts from animation to archival footage, grounds the story’s moment of catharsis in solid historical proof and appears to retreat from the film’s creative strategies. The author explores the stitches hiding behind this unusual cut and suggests an alternative, subversive reading of the final sequence. He then argues that the film’s meaningfulness and documentary value are sustained despite skepticism about the objective truth of its ending.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMetacinema
Subtitle of host publicationThe Form and Content of Filmic Reference and Reflexivity
EditorsDavid LaRocca
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages20
ISBN (Print)9780190095345
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Animated documentary
  • Documentary representation
  • Documentary rhetorics
  • documentary filmmaking
  • New Cinematic strategies
  • truth in representation
  • deepfake video
  • Waltz with Bashir
  • Ari Folman
  • Traumatic War Memories
  • Israeli-Palestinian conflict
  • archival footage
  • spectatorship
  • Active spectatorship
  • Memory
  • Creative memory
  • Dramatization
  • Re-staging
  • Post-trauma


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