I just noticed, watching on dvd “Waltz with Bashir”, an animated feature film documentary about Israelis’ remorse about the Beirut massacres of September, 1982, that an Israeli artist named Ze’ev Tene has created a Hebrew version of John McCrea’s 1994 song “I Bombed Korea,” The Tene song was synch-licensed into the film; there are also a couple videos made of it on the web.
The film was released in 2008, and directed by a former Israeli soldier named Ari Folman. A.O. Scott of the New York Times called it “an altogether amazing film.”
The title of the film references a scene where a solidier goes a little meshugganah after being pinned down by a sniper. He steals his comrade’s gun and crosses a street firing every which way in sort of a dance. Bashir Gemayel was the Lebanese president at the time, worshipped “the way I felt for David Bowie,” Folman says. Gemayel’s assassination is what triggers the massacre in Sabra and Shatila, wherein Israel controlled the area around the refugee camp but did not prevent hundreds of people from being killed in revenge. The film shows Israeli flares lighting up the night skies during the murders, something akin to McCrea’s lyric about “red flowers bursting down below us.”
I remember following the libel suit that resulted when Time Magazine accused defense minister Ariel Sharon of complicity; the coverage was ruled inaccurate but not malicious by U.S. standards. We watched “Waltz with Bashir” after “Animal House” which is an odd pairing, although I was comparing watchin the film to seeing it for the first time in 1978, to thinking about my vivid Dartmouth memories of 1982-1986, to re-living some of them with 400 classmates last week at my 25th reunion. The soldiers in Beirut at the time of the Lebanon invasion were about my age. I checked it to learn that director Ari Folman is about two years my elder. What also figures in my plastic alto brain is Brian Moore’s 1986 documentary about ROTC (and that the U.S. launched an airstrike against Libya on the night of its debut screening, on April 15, 1986), meeting former Dartmouth rugby player, U.S. Marine and now Palo Alto police agent Robert Pelham, and seeing recent pictures of my former cub reporter and now Army Colonel, from Aragon High of San Mateo Rich Outzen (star of “Army Green”).
At my reunion I recall conversations and meals with my classmates (and Richardson Hall-mates) Brad Holt (Navy), Will Ogden (USMC), and Philip Burrow (Navy Pilot). I think I mentioned to Burrow only that my father was on a Navy transport boat during WWII; he was a radar, like the character in “M.A.S.H.”
When I see John McCrea I want to ask him about this film and song. I presume he gets some songwriter royalties.
edit to add, Sept. 2, 2011: I met Esther from Esther’s German Bakery at Peets near Cubberley, along with her fellow-German-speaking friend Keiko and then followed the latter to her Talmud course at Beth Am where we munched homebaked pretzel (by Jenny) and learned about the Scriptural standards for how to treat your workers, beyond “beans and bread.” It was all part of the gestalt and in the zeitgeist, gesundheit.