Sunday, February 12, 2006

Movies without borders: Steven Spielberg's Munich

Munich” is one of those movies you wouldn’t want to miss this year. It's about a team of assassins led by Avner (Eric Bana) sent by the Israeli government to track down and kill the perpetrators of the massacre that claimed the lives of 11 Israeli athletes during the 1972 Munich Olympics. The action is superb. What you wouldn’t want to see, however, is Steven Spielberg’s attempt to preach to Palestinians, Israelis and the rest of the world that violence will solve nothing. We knew this "wisdom" long ago that’s why it’s so irritating to see Spielberg trying so hard to rub the message in through prolonged scenes of Avner’s nightmares, his paranoia, his teammates’ doubts and angst about the mission, the suicide of one his bomb expert, his inability to have gentle sex with his wife after killing six of the eleven targets, and his arguments with his former Mossad handler.

I wonder if Spielberg really understands the psyche of trained killers who are sent to do such dirty work. Why should the Israeli government send five brooding philosophers instead of efficient triggermen who would kill and be killed without question and remorse? I had the opportunity to talk to some special forces types doing such dangerous missions. My impression is that for this kind of people, a target is a target is just a target. They terminate targets, period. Analyzing the political consequences or philosophical ramifications of their actions is not their call. In that movie, Avner’s team is composed of talkative types who are always debating among themselves their ethical dilemmas and the political repercussions of their mission on the future of the Jewish nation. In real life there is probably no such kind of philosophizing Men-with-no-names, making Spielberg’s spiels in unrealistic. (But probably, it's the same reason why this world is such a mess).


Anonymous said...

I have to agree with you about the action, and your points have merit as well. Just a few reactions, though.(1) Apparently, the world still doesn't understand this "wisdom", hence the "rubbing in". (2) Who knows what really goes on inside an assassin's head? I don't think they are just mindless killing machines. Maybe, they do think about the effects of killing their targets, but repress it with their training. That's why there are conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder that afflict some people in this line of work.

Dave Llorito said...

i agree with all your points. what i was trying to say is that there are subtle and more effective ways of delibering the message without really trying so hard. i was just playing "movie critic" there and i still wonder whether or not i have what it takes to be one. thanks for dropping by. really appreciate your comments.