Monday, January 16, 2006

Munich

I ventured out this past weekend to take in Steven Spielberg's film Munich, and I'm still not sure what I think of it. I can't say it was a bad movie. I've always maintained that Spielberg is to motion pictures what Mozart was to music, and he is virtually unrivaled in his ability to stir the emotions of his audience. The movie has more than its fair share of action, suspense, and outright terror, which particularly comes across in the vivid recreation of the capture and murder of the Israeli Olympic team in Munich in 1972.

Unfortunately the further into the film I got, the more I sensed an agenda. There was a real message being communicated through the characters and their dialogue that dared to question the righteousness of the Israeli assassins who were ordered by Golda Meir's government to avenge the cold-blooded murder of their countrymen. It made sense for the characters within the story to question their own motives and whether they were doing the right thing. When the results of your actions mean life and death, your morality is in constant conflict with your sense of duty, or at least it must be if you are to maintain your humanity.

However, as Munich proceeds toward its conclusion, Spielberg seems to be telling his audience that since the actions taken by the Israeli government did not stop the violence and bloodshed, the work itself was futile. And there's a point where you're made to think, "What's the point? If you kill the terrorists, they will only be replaced by men who are more violent, more zealous."

Well, then you will have to kill them too, I guess. It's not the greatest way to go through life, but it's better than being dead. The Palestinian terrorists and their affiliated groups throughout the Middle East deliberately sought attention through bloodshed. They would not be ignored then, and they certainly cannot be ignored now. They are committed to continuing the fight until either they or we are dead. They have forced our hand, and we cannot just turn away and hope the problem will just disappear.

Spielberg apparently doesn't see it that way. He is one of the many liberals who believe they are above both the terrorists and those who fight them, choosing some vague third way that allows them to criticize everyone without getting themselves involved. And he goes so far out of his way to demonstrate this point that he offers up one of the biggest anachronistic gaffes in recent cinema history. In the film's final panning shot of the New York's 1973 skyline, we are treated to a view of the World Trade Center. It is a heavy handed symbolic statement that backs up this message of futility that we are treated to throughout the last half of the film. Of course, the World Trade Center was not completed until 1974. But if you're going to view the world through a surrealistic prism, then you have the power to bend time and space to your wishes. It sometimes makes for good filmmaking, but never for sensible debate.

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