In 1994, Steven Spielberg came out with two of the biggest movies of the year—one fun and forgettable and the other, devastating and eternal—Jurassic Park and Shindler's List. Just over a decade later, in 2005, he did the same thing, giving us the uninspired and silly War of the Worlds and later, the powerful and monumental Munich.
If the profits generated from the one make the brilliance of the other possible, who am I to complain?
Much has been made of Munich's authenticity. Irrelevant. Whether or not the film is entirely true may never be disclosed so long as its events are shrouded in so many secrets. As the credits begin to roll, it doesn't matter anyway. This expertly crafted, Hitchcockian-paced drama about a super-secret Israeli commando team hunting down those Palestinians behind the 1972 Munich Olympic massacre is a cautionary tale all the same.
Where is the line between justice and vengeance? Upon how many hands can the blood of innocents rest? When does one cease being a man and become a monster? How are we so different from one another when our grief, our passions and our brutality are so very alike?
Munich is not a film that glories in violence. It is a film utterly devoid of bravery and bravado. Humanity, not heroics is given the fore. It is a film about good men doing evil deeds because those deeds must, they feel, be done to protect a good greater than them all. It is a film about butchers butchering butchers.
And it is something else as well—it is a clear and resonate plea for peace.
Munich, producer Kathleen Kennedy says, was a painful story to tell, but if it gets people talking, it will have succeeded in its goals. It has done that. And watched as an offering within the current political zeitgeist (particularly alongside last year’s powerful Palestinian offering, Paradise Now), it is one of those rare films that transcends art and taps directly into the consciousness of a hate-battered world.
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