Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Munich (spolers)

Saw Munich on Sunday. It was not a bad movie, just too long at times and awfully pretentious in the Beach kind of way. Sort of "look at me, I have profound thoughts!" kind of a movie.

The most obvious profound thought is that the profession of an assassin, not matter how good the cause is, is somewhat unhealthy for its practicioners, making them susceptible to paranoia and guilt, not to mention the attacks of other assassins and loss of medical and dental insurance. This is undoubtedly true, and I will remember it if I ever consider a career change.

For the most part the movie describes Israel's revenge on Black September, the terrorist group that organized the massacre of 11 Israeli athletes during the 1972 Olympic games in Munich. The events (Israel sending a group of secret assassins to kill the terrorists) were real, but, secret assassins being, well, secret, the details and most of the characters are fictional.

The plot leaves a number of questions: if the idea was to show the terrorists "don't fuck with the Jews", why is the whole thing so secret? If they are supposed to avoid civilian casualties at all costs, why are they using bombs, and why couldn't they have found a bombmaker who is less of a shlemazl?

Every once in a while you also see an idea that you can't get rid of a terrorist organization by killing them all, because the new and more evil members just rise in the ranks. This is a very strange point to make in this particular case, because they did get in fact get rid of Black September, partially through killing them and partially because BS ran out of funding. The Germans also got rid of Baader-Meinhof, by, ahem, encouraging the top brass of the group to shoot themselves in the back of the heads in their maximum-security prison. Violence does in fact work and achieve goals, otherwise there wouldn't be so many people still doing it. The unfortunate downside is that it might work for the other party too. That's why there is such a fierce competition on who has bigger and better means of violence.

Other things that rubbed me the wrong way are just Jewish things. Spielberg seems to represent what I think is the typical American left-wing Jewish viewpoint, and I don't. The movie is full of some romantic view of Israel as a tribal homeland, and simultaneously says a bit of "tsk-tsk" to what Israel does. I, on the other hand, support most anti-terrorist actions of Israel (and other Western countries, for that matter) and I think it's nice that there is such thing as a Jewish country, but I don't have any particularly strong feelings about it as a tribal homeland. Not that I am against anyone cosidering anything their homeland or whatever, but every reference to Jews living outside of Israel as homeless or unhappy made me feel like raising my middle finger at the makers of the movie.

A really fun moment in the movie: young Ehud Barak in drag.

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