Tuesday, January 31, 2006


Saw this yesterday.

Em..a little epic in length (I started wondering if it was going to be in real-time!) but what a film.

For those of you who are cinema phobic, the movie is about the Israeli government's reaction to the Palestinian abduction and murder of 11 of their athletes at the '72 Olympics in Munich.
Mossad (Israeli Secret Service) dispatches a black ops team to Europe, where they are instructed to find and kill as many of the ringleaders of the abduction etc as possible. And "Munich" chronicles that in extraordinary detail but also focuses on the effect the killings have on the agents themselves.

Eric Bana (Troy, The Hulk) takes centre stage as Avner, the leader of the operation, assisted by a host of specialists in explosives, organisation and..driving getaway cars. Another member of the cast that I recognised was Daniel Craig, soon to be the new 007.

The film's come in for some stick for portraying the Palestinian characaters as too human, almost apologising for them, while making Avner's team come across as the bad guys. I didn't find that the case at all. It was my experience that Spielberg treats every single death as a tragedy, regardless what side the victim is on.
For me, the film seemed more to be an examination of what it is-or at least was-to be an Israeli citizen, to have that feeling of being surrounded and hemmed in by enemies and the need both to strike back and to strike first.
I think Spielberg neatly seperated the difference between being Jewish (as he is himself) and being Israeli and that the two are not necessarily interchangeable. And, while we find ourselves rooting for Avner and co, there is no doubt that Spielberg regrets the entire thing having taken place. The film's summation leaves the question hanging about whether the Munich reprisals were worth it, whether they may have done more harm than good, and whether the State of Israel should be permitted take such hardline tactics.

And such issues are beyond pertinent, possibly even more now than then.

And I have to say that I've never been so moved by the deaths of characters before. The murder of the Israeli athletes being the most poignant part of the film. Seeing as the cinema-going public tends to be quite desensatised to depictions of death and violence, I can all but assure you that you'll be suprised at how much emotion you'll feel at this movie.

So "Munich" is not just a reverse of "Schindler's List" (where this time the Jews do the killing) but is an honest attempt both to chronicle the events in Europe over that 2 years of assasinations and to provoke debate about people's preconceptions about the Middle-Eastern question.

I can't recommend enough.


Blogger -Ann said...

An excellent and thorough review, I think. We saw it last night too and were quite impressed with the quality of the film. Salon.com has a good examination of the whole blow-back over the movie. The essence of their commentary is that in post-9/11 America, you can only look at these issues in black and white.

The film is glorious in mostly shunning the black and white approach and showing what happens when individuals and countries cross the lines to get revenge and to right wrongs.

1:17 PM  

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