Munich

Bomb Rating: 

I'm so sick of this particular phrase, I'm going to stand up and walk out of the theater the next time I see it: "Inspired by actual events."

I'm so sick of this particular phrase, I'm going to stand up and walk out of the theater the next time I see it: "Inspired by actual events." I'm sorry, but what in the hell does that mean? I'll tell you: It means nothing. This is the filmmaker's way of suggesting that he is telling a historical tale in order to give his film some resonance. In reality, his film could include anything from talking crocodiles to flying monkeys and it doesn't make the phrase "inspired by actual events" any less true. The phrase simultaneously casts the filmmaker as historian and relieves him of any responsibility whatsoever for adhering to the truth.

And when the filmmaker in question is Steven Spielberg, what are we to make of the film? Personally, I assume such extreme license has been taken with actual events that virtually nothing in the film is true. Certainly here, the kidnapping of 11 Israeli athletes by a Palestinian organization called Black September is true. Their deaths during the botched German rescue are true. As for what comes after that, I have no idea. It's my assertion that this film, like the other Hollywood schlock that claims and doesn't claim to be history, is dangerous. People watch it and assume it happened and such films are largely responsible for promoting (but not creating) ignorance.

Films should tell stories and when they stray into trying to be pedagogical tools, especially when the filmmaker is unqualified to teach, then they should be objects of ridicule and "Munich" is one such film. Spielberg's target here couldn't be more obvious. It's the pattern of violence between Israelis and Palestinians and the conclusion of its escalation. The question here is whether Spielberg is asking a question or making a statement. If his parting shot is any indication, I'd say he's making a statement. Unfortunately, he has no answers and that makes "Munich" empty.

The story follows an Israeli named Avner (Eric Bana) a Mossaud agent who's offered a job by an operative (Geoffrey Rush) to hunt down the Palestinians responsible for Munich. To make a long story short, Avner's journey turns out to be more one of conscience than revenge. Believe it or not, it turns out that violence and revenge don't solve anything. Certainly that's true for Avner's crew (Daniel Craig, Ciaran Hinds, Mathieu Kassovitz), otherwise Spielberg wouldn't be able to make his big point at the end.

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