the fresh films reviews

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Munich (2005)

Steven Spielberg
164 minutes
Kathleen Kennedy
Barry Mendel
Steven Spielberg
Colin Wilson
Screenwriter (based on the book "Vengeance" by G. Jonas):
Tony Kushner
Eric Roth

Cast includes:

Avner Eric Bana ½
Steve Daniel Craig
Carl Ciarán Hinds ½
Robert Mathieu Kassovitz
Hans Hanns Zischler ½
Daphna Ayelet Zorer ½
Ephraim Geoffrey Rush
Papa Michael Lonsdale ½
Louis Mathieu Amalric



Munich is Steven Spielberg's 70s tour of Europe camouflaged as a joint paranoia thriller and political/historical account of the conflict between Jews and Palestines in Israel. The film looks amazing (if I didn't find it highly unlikely, I'd be certain this film was actually filmed in the 70s) and if you're interested in learning European geography and culture by going to the movies, this would be a fine choice. Hopefully, Spielberg might enlighten the American public somewhat in that respect.

However, the main course here is the ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine - back-dropped against the killings of 11 Israeli athletes during the 1972 Summer Olympics in München. Spielberg, who have been known to speak his fellow Jews' cause, is with this film careful to illuminate the conflict from both points of view and to not take sides. At times he is so impartial that it's almost as if the film is afraid to make a point. Except, of course, that killing is wrong and only leads to more killing.

Munich is at its best depicting the political complexity of the Israel/Palestine situation, letting us get to know our chosen group of five and follow them around Europe on their mission. A mission that it can be hard to determine whether is "good" or "bad" and that show the human side of terrorism. There's a very poignant scene between Avner, our protagonist, posing as ETA and a Palestine dissenter where the two discuss the situation. It sums up what most of this conflict is about - from both points of view.

The engaging Eric Bana is used as Spielberg's puppet to convey the horrors of murder. Wanting to have the München-events run as a thin red line through his narrative, Spielberg lets them haunt Bana in his sleep. A cheap and frivolous trick that undermine the tone of the film. We're also left with the regular unknown informants (Lonsdale/Amalric) in the most archetypical form. That is a safe instrument for a filmmaker, because it both adds to the paranoia of a thriller and at the same time works as a cover-up for anything your script couldn't manage to explain.

Munich is a very thorough and matured film. It is intelligent, knowledgeable and nuanced, and it is technically brilliant. It could have been close to a classic, had Spielberg only been able to saturate it with a bit more universal, human emotion. I think it's a pity that a film so full of dramatic potential as this one chooses something as melodramatic as a father's phone call with his infant or the nightmares of something he has never seen as the backcloth for outburst.

Copyright © 2.3.2006 Fredrik Gunerius Fevang