Waltz Essay

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A war veteran speaks with his closest friend about their days in the military, reliving their long nights on the beach, shooting at the enemies, enjoying themselves while always facing victory, never touching upon the trauma that they endured. They never talk about the faces of young men that they were ordered to execute, nor do they talk about the image in their heads of a little girl, laying in the street dead, her mother next in line for a the similar fate. Both men ask themselves how they came to commit such horrible crimes, neither one grasping onto a logical reason, and their guilt following them to the grave. Ari Folman’s animated documentary Waltz with Bashir follows Folman himself, a memory-stricken war veteran who struggles to let go of his inner-feelings of guilt derived from his involvement in the war-related massacres that occurred under his watch while in Beruit, Lebanon. With innovative research done on conformity by Stanley Milgram, Phillip Zimbardo’s obedience test; the Stanford Prison experiment, and the notion that strong social influences can make people capitulate to cruelty, one sees that a human beings sense of morality is non-existent when in the face of war, often giving into group conformity while losing their identity and their sense of responsibility in the process.

Naturally, we human beings are conformists; adjusting our behavior to coincide with that of a group standard. Social pressure and a desire to be accepted contribute to our continuous efforts to be accepted into a group. With technology making research more simple and widespread, many new theories and experiments surfaced, the most influential being that of American social psychologist Stanley Milgram. Milgram’s goal was to discover how human beings respond to commands. He took two people, labeling one the teacher and the other the learner. Milgram told the teacher to ask the learner a question, and the learner, who was strapped to an electrically wired chair, had...
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