Monday, January 30, 2006

Munich (2005)

I'll see anything Spielberg makes. Schindler's List and Saving Private Ryan are two of the great movies of all time.

That's what makes Munich so disappointing.

What makes List and Ryan compelling films is that they take a moral point of view.

Munich is a swirl of moral confusion.

I knew the film was in trouble when it began with the words, "Inspired by Real Events". I think this is shorthand for: This film bears a vague resemblance to happenings in this plane of reality involving homo sapiens.

What follows is a dreary and morose mission impossible, exciting at times but burdened with layer upon layer of moral conundrums and implied legitimacy on all sides of a bloody conflict.

The problem lies in this movies disconnection with reality. It tries to portray the war between Palestinians and Israelis as a cycle of violence between two peoples simply fighting for their homes. By killing the killers of the Munich Olympics, Israel is simply selling it's moral soul in return for a dehumanizing descent into this cycle of death and futility. By implication, it seems, Spielberg is passing judgment on all such attempts at using violent means to fight terrorism.

The final scene occurs in the early seventies in the shadow of the World Trade Center Towers in New York. Apparently Spielberg is trying to show the failure of fighting terror as it has been fought in the film. Obviously little has changed, after all the fighting that has occurred, that would prevent terrorism.

It is this scene that illustrates Munich's failure as a film and a political statement. Never in the film is there any explicit mention of Islamic Fascism and it's aims. Never is there mention of overt anti-Semitism on part of the Palestinians. They are simply fighting for their home. In the real world, the Twin Towers fell not because of a cycle of violence between peoples fighting for their home, but because of a religious desire to make the world submit to a strict religious code. Spielberg's film is absolutely silent on the question of how to deal with such ideology because it is never mentioned. I'm not sure why he would use the iconography of the Twin Towers without even addressing the stated reasons of the murderers who brought them down.

Also, unlike Spielberg's other films, this war has no real anti-Semites. In the real world Israel and the US have to deal with people who would be happy if every Jew perished. By not mentioning this problem in his film, the whole posture of moral instruction here misses the mark of real life value. It seems that the "Saving Private Ryan" approach of killing those who would kill the Jews has become distasteful to Spielberg or at least no longer to be celebrated but lamented.

I wait to see any big screen depiction of Islamic terrorists that is close to how they talk and act in the real world.

My Rating: Rentable

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