Munich (Steven Spielberg, 2005)

Munich (Steven Spielberg, 2005)


If "Schindler's List" was Spielberg's serious take on the Holocaust, "Amistad" his take on slavery, "The Color Purple" his take on black feminism, so on and so forth, and if you (like me) are a touch tired of his take on this or that weighty issue, you may want to be wary--his latest, "Munich," is his take on the Middle East, and it's provoked the loudest reactions yet, both positive and negative, of all his so-called 'serious' films.


Strangely, it's not easy to dismiss this as yet another attempt by one of the world's most financially successful directors to finally grow up (something he's been trying to do for twenty-one years): it's based on the book "Vengeance" by George Jonas (about the Israeli assassination squads formed in response to the killing of Israeli athletes in the 1972 Munich Olympics), turned into a screenplay by Eric Roth (he wrote the terminally clueless "Forrest Gump"), then revised (probably for the better) by Pulitzer Prize winner Tony Kushner (he wrote the six-hour gay epic "Angels in America"). Spielberg pours much of his passion and considerable filmmaking technique into this, as much as in any of his best works, and the effort shows: some sequences--the first assassination, the killing of the woman assassin, the flashbacks to the Munich kidnapping and massacre--are tautly directed, the violence casually yet vividly presented so that you flinch when, say, a man suddenly drives a knife into someone's skull (the casualness suggests a 'you are there' realism; the vividness--well, you practically feel the crunch of steel into bone).

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