Washington DC, December 19, 2005–On Thursday, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) attended an advanced screening of Steven Spielberg‘s “Munich.” The film, while not a historical adaptation, is based on Israel‘s retaliation campaign following the killing of 11 Israeli athletes by Palestinians at the 1972 Munich Olympics.
The film‘s subject will by its very nature create controversy. However, a well intentioned Spielberg and screenwriter Tony Kushner, make a genuine effort to examine the futility of the ongoing cycle of violence between Palestinians and Israelis.
The film‘s protagonist is Israeli Mossad agent Avner, played by Eric Bana. Avner, along with four others, is tasked with killing a list of Palestinians he is told are responsible for Munich. At the beginning, he accepts his assignment without question. However, slowly, Avner begins to reevaluate his mission, the victims‘ ties to the Munich killings, and what this assignment means to his identity as well as Isreal‘s. “Did I commit murder?” he shouts at one point to his Mossad supervisor, “Where is the proof? Show me the proof.” Indeed the central question of the film is how nations and individuals can reconcile murder, revenge, and assassinations as part of their identity.
In “Munich,” ethics are a malleable commodity, tailored to diverging agendas and conflicting causes. What remain consistent however are the brutal murders at the heart of the film. Violence is the dialogue of “Munich,” and everyone participates, including, Israelis, Palestinians, the CIA, the KGB, and private business assassins.
To his credit, Spielberg, weaves an intricate and complex depiction of events and characters involved in Munich and its aftermath. Especially important are the debates and dialogues between Avner and his team, as well as the larger context in which the film is placed. Munich is never portrayed as an isolated incident, but rather as part of a conflict, in which violence feeds off of itself, much to the detriment of everyone involved. For example, in once scene Avner discusses with a Palestinian named Ali (Tony Award nominated Arab-American Actor Omar Metwally) the importance of a home, and the struggle for recognition and identity. “This didn‘t start at Munich,” another Palestinian character states.
“Munich” is an engaging, if quite lengthy, thriller. Overall, it represents an effort to deal seriously with the devastating cycle of violence in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the urgent need for change.
“Munich” opens on Friday December 23, 2005 nationwide. For more information about the movie and screening times visit: http://www.munichmovie.com/splash.html