Director: Ely Dagher
Arabic with English subtitles
A metaphor derives its meaning from what we put into it.
“Waves ’98,” which won the short film prize at Cannes and is part of the Animation Spotlight at Sundance Film Festival, is a thoughtful, beautifully animated, mostly symbolic look at wanting to escape reality and facing the fact that escape isn’t enough. Though we may not face the same kind of hardships as the protagonist, who lives in segregated Beruit, anyone who’s ever felt hopeless can understand.
I won’t go into the plot, which is largely symbolic, but it’s the variety of small details that hit the hardest. A closer look at a collection of picture frames reveals that the photos are the ones they were sold with, which means that they’re basically empty. A scene of the main character curled up on a chair listening to music may be a more mundane escape than the one he experiences later, but it’s one we’re all familiar with.
The animation is fantastically well done, blending real-life scenes and the animated characters to create a sense of reality that always feels just a little unreal. Sometimes I couldn’t tell whether a scene was real or animated, which is a testament to the talent that went into creating the movie. Another testament is the fact that is the wonderful expressiveness of the characters, even though they’re much more simply animated.