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After greatly disappointing us with the mediocre “War of the Worlds”, Steven Spielberg has greatly redeemed himself in my eyes with the spectacular “Munich”.

Based on true events that occurred at the Munich Olympics in 1972, this movie begins with the travesty of 11 Israeli athletes being taken hostage and brutally murdered by the Palestinian terrorist group, ‘Black September’. This event shocks the world and the whole of Israel cries for vengeance. The Israeli government, headed by the homely looking Golda Meir, hatches a plan to murder the 11 Palestinians involved in this terrorist attack. For this they form a secret association headed by a member of the Mossad, the Israeli Secret Service- Avner (Eric Bana). He is asked to take up this mission of tracking and killing the people responsible for the Munich attack. Initially, he is unsure whether to take up this responsibility or not but finally accepts and, along with his men, sets about establishing contacts and assassinating the required. Though hesitant at first, he becomes extremely dedicated to his duty and is determined to successfully complete it. The group carefully plans the death of each target, being scrupulously particular about causing no harm to innocents. As they inch closer to the end of their mission, members of their group start getting killed by the people they are after.

After a thwarted attempt to take the life of a particular prominent figure behind the Munich attack, Avner returns home unwilling to go on with the mission. He feels a deep sense of guilt. The Munich massacre haunts him, even while making love to his wife. This, and the thought of all the blood he has shed, gives him sleepless nights and a very troubled demeanor. The movie ends on a note of possible hope for the country, as Avner tries to explain to his employer the futility of so much death and atrocities towards the people.
Some scenes in this movie are exceptionally deep and meaningful, like the one in which Louis (the group’s contact) asks his father- the head of the information outfit- to explain why they did what they did, which robbed the lives of so many people. To this, the grandfatherly looking Papa bemoans how something terrible is always replaced by another as bad or worse, and how governments should be avoided as far as possible.

At one point, here is a heated discussion about the positions of Jews and Palestinians between an ardent anti-Semite and a Jew sympathizer (Avner). The conflicting viewpoints are explicitly presented and the whole scene is truly involving and transcending.

During the course of action, one of Avner’s men (the bomb maker) gets very emotional and overwhelmed with what they are doing- they, the ‘decent’ Jews. He seems to get very disillusioned with the situation and can’t seem to come to terms with what they are doing. Very touching segment.

Eric Bana has done an exceptional job in portraying the role of a military agent, dedicated to his country and willing to avenge his people’s deaths. At the same time, he is a family man- a devoted husband and a loving father. He leaves his crucial mission halfway and heads home, just to be there for the birth of his daughter. Later, when he’s out on the field and talking in the phone to his wife, he breaks down and gets teary on hearing his daughter’s voice. He appears to have become hardened and come to terms with his life and his job, but soon starts having sleepless nights and paranoia for his life. Even when he is home after abandoning his mission, he fears for his life and that of his family. He seems bewildered and unsure of how to react when a couple of minor Israeli officers express their honour at meeting him. Thus is illustrated a good honorable man who starts questioning the morality of all he has done, overcome with sadness at the state of affairs in his beloved country.

Throughout the movie, the brutal murder of the athletes is shown in fragments in a heart rending manner. Depicted very tragically, and with impeccable timing. The movie has an added element of authenticity with the many news broadcasts shown in it being original broadcasts from 1972, during this period of unrest in the world.

An extremely serious and somber movie, with brilliant acting, great direction, and beautiful choreography of the action. Definitely a must-watch for serious movie buffs with a taste for simplistic serious fare.

My rating-9.5/10
Published: 2008-05-31
Author: Divya Ramesh

About the author or the publisher
I have a passion for writing and am interested in doing so in any and every field. I am an avid blogger and have written regularly for a society newspaper; reviews as well as general articles. I was also on the editorial committee for my college newsletter. I have a strong vocabulary and a good method of expression. I write about humor, philosophy, lifestyle, travel, legal and social issues and other matters.

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