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December 07, 2005

Munich '72

Kesher Talk has a blogburst about the 1972 Olympics massacre of Israeli athletes.

The excellent documentary One Day In September recounts the tragedy, and also the subequent betrayal. The German government arrested the Palestinian murderers, but then arranged, with the connivance of the PLO, to have a German plane with a minimal number of passengers "hijacked" as a pretext for releasing these thugs.

Which then led to the Israeli Mossad hunting them down. Which is the subject, of course, of Steven Spielberg's big-buzz Munich film.

Although I'm concerned that Spielberg is attempting to take the morality out of the story -- he portrays Mossad agents as conflicted, and explains the "root causes" for the terrorism; he also had uberlefty playwright Tony Kushner rewrite the script -- I'm more hopeful than worried.

Giving a nod to the "root causes" is, in today's PC climate, all but unavoidable. For those who worry that Tony Kushner has turned out a very left-wing script... well, directors, especially big directors like Spielberg, are the real writers of the script, in the sense that nothing's in there that they don't want to be in there, and everything in there is what they told the writer to put in there.

Just as George Clooney & Co. used the pro-liberation Bob Baer book as the suggestion for the anti-American Syriana -- trading on Baer's authority to give a veneer of credibility to their paranoiac fantasies -- it's quite possible Spielberg just hired the notably left-wing and anti-war Kushner to appease the left.

Spielberg is undeniably a liberal, but I don't think he's a peacenik liberal. He's Jewish, of course, which makes it hard to believe he'd actually justify the massacre of Jews, a big supporter of the Holocaust Museum, and of course a big supporter of the WWII Memorial Project. He also spoke out in support (soft, cautious support, but support nonetheless) for ousting Saddam when interviewed before the toughest pro-Saddam crowd out there -- the French celebrity journalist corps at Cannes.

Despite the anger that a lot of conservatives already have towards this project, I'm taking a wait-and-see attitude. Yes, there will be some exposition about the motivations of the killers. But that's to be expected; even in a decidedly anti-terrorist popcorn film like True Lies, the villain announced his grievances with the west ("You bomb our countries from afar like cowards and you dare to call us terrorists!"). And yes, there will be moral conflict in the heroes; but that's more a nod to the dramatic form than politics. (Not many movies are made about unconflicted heroes, after all.)

It's possible that the movie will be precisely the exercise in terrorist apologism that some fear, of course, but given Spielberg's background, and given the fact he's got all the power in Hollywood to make whatever sort of movie he likes, no matter how un-PC, I imagine it will be more like Saving Private Ryan. Anti-war/anti-violence/anti-retribution themes running through it, to be sure, but never quite losing sight of the fact that sometimes the Bad Guys have to be put down like dogs.

Plus, it's got a happy ending. Most of the murderers ended up being killed. You can put in all the mournful, uncertain trumpet music you like over the over the death-montage which will, inevitably, run at the end of the movie, but that's not going to be enough to keep people from thinking "Yessss!" when they see, as George Bush said, the terrorists being brought to justice, or, better yet, justice being brought to them.

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posted by Ace at 02:20 PM

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