# 29 on 100 Movies I Haven’t Seen………..But Should
Directed By: Steven Spielberg
Written By: Tony Kushner and Eric Roth
Staring: Eric Bana, Daniel Craig, Geoffrey Rush, Ciarán Hinds, Mathieu Kassovitz, Hanns Zischler, and Ayelet Zurer
Hey, sweetheart, this is your papa… this my voice, my darling… don’t forget what I sound like, okay? -Avner
Munich is one of Spielberg’s most powerful pieces of work. This isn’t a movie you’ll be able to watch over and over. It’s too busy asking tragically unanswered questions about the morality of humanity, the violence of man, and what righteousness truly is. The cost of the idea of “An Eye For An Eye” suddenly becomes open for discussion, when at some point it seemed such a clear and simple goal. Eric Bana , the centerpiece of this allegory depicts the price one pays for vengeance and the utter terror of becoming that which we once hated most.
The first scene opens you to the television accounts of what happened in the 1972 Munich Olympic games. Piece by piece the story unfolds before our eyes and then we are told the inevitable, terrible news of the athletes murders. All eleven slaughtered. When we are moved into the living room of Avner and Daphna, husband and wife, watching their reactions and sharing the intimacy of the horror of the situation, we are drawn into a new world where the film really begins. It was a simplistic and a clever way to tie the events together without separating them from each other.
Avner is selected as the team leader to find those responsible for the massacre of Munich. As just a spectator before and now an idealist with thoughts of righteousness and moral high-ground he leaves his pregnant wife. It isn’t long before the desire for that revenge takes it’s toll on the team. Swallowed by a world of intelligence for hire, paying to find his targets by an illusive man named Louis and his wealthy father, who takes a liking to Anver. Anver and his teams conscience and paranoia begins to pay. When they discover those they’ve killed are just replaced by another terrorists their resolve wanes and the fear of themselves becoming targets becomes ever more present. After awhile they aren’t even sure that they are doing what it was they were told their mission was. As a viewer, the intensity of these moments are translated directed through the screen to you. It’s an awful yet very palpable tension.
I also enjoyed the jab taken at the media interfering with the hostages in Munich and the media’s inability to actually be “just an observer” in today’s modern warfare. Merely by being there they are interfering. Spielberg also wasn’t afraid to be ostentatious with the violence. The brutal realism and the sound of bullets firing and bombs exploding were not exploited in the fun way you get to experience in a Michael Bay or James Cameron film. The mere sound struck terror into your heart, making me want to cover my ears and turn away.
Avner played by Eric Bana is absolutely incredible. His riveting performance is the heart of this unfortunate story. The melancholy dissonance of who and what Avner becomes was far from the character he started out as. The reflection of the beginning with his wife and being with her and watching the events with the hostages transpire gave a sense of hope, and by the end, you saw the terrible weight he carried, as it had become a personal burden. The circle of his tale was complete, and while his world was the same on the outside, it would never be the same for him inside. In supporting performances the wonderfully two faced Mathiew Amalric as Louis brought a much needed dynamic to the tale and the moments with his father played by the aged and tired Michael Lonsdale gave some of the best character moments the film had to offer.
It is a reminder of our humanity, that even the most righteous cause may cost our souls. As good as Munich was, it was just as heavy. The finale is beyond sorrowful. The lingering question Anver asks, “When does it ever end?” just leaves you with the realization that it never truly does. I admire Spielberg for what he attempted to do in this film, as he was mostly successful, but because it’s so apathetic I can’t see myself watching it again for a long time. Munich is a triumph, but one that carries the burden of staying with you long after watching.
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