Ah, the Israelis and the Palestinians: fighting for generations and doomed to occupy space in the eight o’ clock evening news for decades more. Their conflict is one we are all familiar with. It’s a story about land, anger, revenge, blood and, ultimately, death. As one of the millions (or billions) of people saturated by coverage by CNN, BBC, SKY news and various other media outlets, the Israeli/Palestinian conflict has become commonplace.
Of course, I can’t speak for everyone else but this constant exposure to the subject has certainly desensitised me. That’s extremely sad, I know. Death and human tragedy should always affect us, but the Palestinians and the Israelis have been fighting for so long, like a pair of squabbling siblings, that the point of, ”I don’t care anymore!” has been reached by many people, even when we should.
Munich goes behind the scenes of this conflict and tells the largely true story (“inspired by” is the official term) of a squad of hit men assembled by Mossad, the Israeli Intelligence Agency, in retaliation for the murder of 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, Germany.
Munich is a Steven Spielberg film, through and through.
Technically, it can’t be faulted. It recreates the look of the 70s brilliantly. Using a hazy over-exposed documentary film approach, that is reminiscent of news footage and films from that era, longtime Spielberg collaborator and director of photography Janusz Kaminski must be complimented for visually rooting the film firmly and beautifully in this period.
Performances are also top class. Eric Bana as the assassination squad leader portrays the breakdown of Avner – a man who steadily begins to lose faith in what he is fighting for – with great skill. The same can be said for Geoffrey Rush and soon-to-be-Bond Daniel Craig.
The film approaches its subject matter from an Israeli perspective but never directly sides morally with either the Palestinians or Israelis. As Avner begins to question what he is doing, the senselessness of the hit squad’s actions is demonstrated, and the film as a whole aims to depict the human futility of the Israeli / Palestinian conflict from both camps.
This is a sort of washed out, middle of the road approach which is largely keeping most sides of the political spectrum happy; not angering anyone as it most certainly could have done if it had made a bolder statement.
Spielberg, as can be expected, does a good job with Munich but it simply lacks something. Maybe the years of desensitisation have something to do with this, but I found myself, at times, bored. Not so much with the narrative of the film but possibly more with the subject matter that was driving that narrative.
To be honest I just don’t know if this film says anything about the Israeli / Palestinian conflict that hasn’t already been said in the news and media, and such, as a film, Munich sadly made me think, “So what?”