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December 31, 2005

Another Rip of Munich, This Time In The WaPo

From the director of the Holocaust Museum argues:

Director Steven Spielberg claims that he's not telling us what to think. In talking about his provocative new film, "Munich," Spielberg says that, as an artist, he's offering questions, not answers. And he insists that, as a Jew exposed to the Talmudic tradition, he wants to provoke discussion, not provide conclusions.

I don't think Spielberg is being disingenuous in talking about "Munich," which re-creates the massacre by Palestinian terrorists of 11 Israeli athletes during the 1972 Olympics and Israel's decision to respond with targeted assassinations of the perpetrators. But it's clear from watching the film, and reading his many comments about his goals in making it, that what he says, alas, simply isn't true. On both of the film's central themes -- terrorism and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict -- Spielberg and "Munich" offer plenty of answers and conclusions.

First, the terrorism issue. Spielberg told a Los Angeles Times interviewer that answering aggression with aggression "creates a vicious cycle of violence with no real end in sight." He said much the same thing to Time magazine -- "a response to a response doesn't really solve anything. It just creates a perpetual-motion machine."

And his film frames for the viewer exactly this bleak vision of unending and unendable violence. Palestinian terrorists murder Israeli athletes to put their cause before the world. Israeli counterterrorists assassinate Palestinian terrorists involved with those murders. Palestinian terrorists carry out more murders of innocents, presumably because of the assassinations. At the end of the film, the camera lingers on the pre-9/11 Manhattan skyline, dominated by the twin towers of the World Trade Center. The film is crafted to demonstrate that violence breeds violence in the long run as well as in the short run.

Spielberg told critic Roger Ebert that his movie says, "I don't have an answer." But he, and the movie, do have an answer, and a ringing one: Striking back with force is not the solution.

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posted by Ace at 03:15 PM

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