2007’s Movies List: #23

Having some blog issues, as this post wasn’t appearing on the site. Hopefully you can see it now! Anyway, in 2005, a year of interesting film productions, there are a few films that truly stand out. This is one of them.

#23: “Munich”

This is Steven Spielberg’s latest film. I just got done watching it again for the second time. To start, I think it’s fair to say this is a disturbing film. It’s one of the most graphic films I’ve seen. The scenes depicting graphic violence are crafted so well, it’s hard to tell that they are fake. It also contains, what Jim Emerson described as “one of the most controversial sex scenes” for films in 2005. That’s on top of the subject matter and some nudity.

The subject of the film is the massacre at the 1972 Munich Olympics, where 11 Israeli athletes were held hostage and then all murdered by a terrorist group known as Black September. However, the film opens with all of that happening. Anyone born in the early 1960’s or before surely remembers this incident taking place on their television sets. Spielberg takes the story a step further by showing what happened after those murders. The film is based off of a novel called “Vengeance” by George Jonas. That may have been an appropriate title for the movie, as that is a big recurring idea in the movie.The film is not easy to sit through, especially considering what these people did.

Essentially, it equates to Israelis murdering these terrorists in cold blood. Many will argue that they had good reason-the terrorists kidnapped and killed people. As a Christian, I don’t agree with the actions this group took. Neither do my parents. In fact, neither of them could sit through the whole movie because of that. I see the movie as simply portraying what happened. Spielberg admits we don’t and won’t know the exact events. However, Spielberg chooses to explain them without political or moral bias. In the same way Greengrass portrays the events of September 11th in the newer “United 93”, Spielberg is simply showing us what happened. It’s up to us to critique the actions that the film crew took, not the real people that this movie portrays.

Even if seen purely as an act of vengeance, this movie still holds much ground into what can happen after all exposure to all of this violence. Ultimately, that’s what the story tells. Avner, played by Eric Bana, seems to go along with the murders like it doesn’t mean much. By the end of the movie, Avner is changed by the events, so much that he can’t even look at normal things with a clear mind. That motif is played only for a few scenes, as it becomes clear that he wants explanation for what they did. Is there a way to explain murder?

Amidst the story of Avner, we get to meet a few other characters with Avner. Daniel Craig, now playing James Bond, plays a character named Steve. While we don’t see much of him, it’s one of the few others who end up having the same feelings about unfolding events as Avner. Spielberg expertly directs the movie, and Janusz Kaminiski creates beautiful cinematography, as usual. When the movie ended, I was prepared to keep watching another hour. I was so into the situation that was going on that I was probably looking for more of a big ending. However, it certainly ended when it should have, and I respect the movie for that. Of course, the acting is good, but it’s not the point of the movie. The point is to tell a story, and Spielberg has done it wonderfully. If you have any interest in this topic or Spielberg, this movie cannot be missed.