Tuesday, January 31, 2006


I've never been a fan of Steven Spielberg. Being subjected to schmaltzy, cliched shit like E fucking T and Jurassic Park while I was a kid probably had something to do with it. I never saw Schindler's List and I thought Saving Private Ryan wasn't bad but didn't do a whole lot for me.

Still I'd heard enough good things about Munich to convince me to give it a chance, and I'm very glad I did. The movie is based on historical events; following the murder of the Israeli competitors at the 1972 Olympics in Munich the Israeli government had the organisers of the attack assassinated. The assassins are the protagonists of the movie, and Spielberg uses their story to criticise Israeli and American foreign policy both at the time the movie is set and today.

It would be easy for such weighty subjects to be ruined by a heavy handed treatment, but fortunately Spielberg shows a restrained style that I didn't know he had in him. He doesn't portray the Israeli authorities as bad people (he shows that their decisions were based on solid reasoning) but rather is saying that history has indicated that perpetuating the violence has had no benefit in the long run.

As he did with Saving Private Ryan Spielberg shows said violence in a brutally graphic manner, almost as an antidote to the slick, thrilling violence of most action movies. But having said that it still works pretty well as an action movie itself at times. He also makes a point of humanising the terrorists, showing them as intellectuals and family men, not to excuse their actions but just to emphasise that, contrary to the attitudes of some of the assassins, murder is always wrong, even though it may sometimes be necessary.

Yes it's a bit long and maybe it tries to pack a bit too much in but I found it to be a very powerful movie. The final shot of the New York skyline links his point to the international issues of today in no uncertain terms, and even though the movie offers no solutions it clearly states that the solutions currently pursued by the western governments are almost certainly the wrong ones.

No comments: