Tuesday, December 27, 2005


Merry Christmas, Goldberg.


I saw Munich as well. I guess it is a well made movie - some of the scenes are as exciting as Spielberg's work in the Indiana Jones films or Jurassic Park (by far, in my opinion, his best movie).

(As an aside - Goldberg. I find it best to leave unspoken the point that I don't differentiate between his "serious" and "popcorn" movies. There is really no difference - outside of his project of filming survivors telling their stories which actually is very important and will possibly make up for the harm done to the world by Jurassic Park 2 - and people should figure that out on their own.)

However, as a "prayer for peace" or a somehow interesting political statement, I have qualms. Before I saw Munich, I imagined the Munich terrorists as insane madmen, with no concern for human life and no real ideology outside of a homicidal religious philosophy. I figured Israeli soldiers were generally good people, probably pretty smart, and probably occasionally wonder whether they are doing the right thing. While I imagine those stereotypes are probably closer to accurate than most stereotypes, I also know that a lot of racism and cultural bias on my part went into forming them in my head. So, maybe a prayer for peace between Israel and its enemies (which I think Spielberg thinks this is) should maybe try to challenge that stereotype and bridge that gap? Maybe that's an impossible thing to do, but then why call this movie a "prayer for peace"? Regardless, this movie didn't even try.

I don't think Spielberg did anything to humanize anyone except the team of Israeli agents who were supposed to kill 11 men who probably had something to do with Munich. There are many scenes of Israelis feeling guilty about killing people, but not one scene (unless I'm missing something) of anyone feeling guilty about killing Israelis. The Israelis spend the whole movie desperately trying to avoid killing civilians; the only Palestinian characters that have significant screen time slaughter 10 helpless athletes. Seriously, how is that a "prayer for peace?" I just don't get it.

I say this knowing virtually nothing about what happened after Munich, outside of a general knowledge of the history of Israel during the time period. And I don't even know why this film was supposedly controversial or important - and I intend to read more and let you know if I'm missing something important. But apparently (according to this movie) Israel immediately bombed some camps after Munich - leaving something like 60 Arabs dead (again, according to the movie). Why didn't we see that? Yes, it wouldn't have had anything to do with the plot, but then neither did the first 30 minutes of Saving Private Ryan. Were children killed? Seeing that on screen, rather than just hearing it referred to, may have made me pause and think about how much blood was on both sides' hands. That's doesn't mean that both sides are equally at fault - but the first step, I think, in a prayer to peach has to be a realization of just how terrible war is.

In the end, I don't understand why this story is especially relevant today, I don't understand why this movie was a prayer for peace and, although I don't really know what Spielberg was trying to say by ending with a shot of the World Trade Center, I'm pretty sure I don't like it.

But I still have an open mind about this, so try to talk me out of it if you disagree.

Also, Eric Bana was really quite good, as was the rest of the cast.
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