Two ‘based on true events’ murder stories, I said. And two it was, as the limited engagement for Munich included one of my two local theaters. (And a couple more around here, but nothing with actual expended effort, so, hooray!) And when I say it’s a movie all about murdering, well, that’s completely true. Still nothing like the other one, though, what with the nuanced script and acting, Spielbergian direction (I’d feel bad for him if it wasn’t, I expect), and general lack of being a horror movie in favor of solid drama.
Shortly after the events of the 1972 Olympics at Munich, where a Palestinian assault on the village resulted in the deaths of all of the Israeli athlete-hostages, Mossad and the Israeli Prime Minister are purported to have authorized a black ops mission to eliminate eleven members of Black September, the terrorist organization responsible for the strike. After you know that much, all the rest is fallout. So many good questions here: Is it acceptable to rain terror down upon terrorists? Is that even a valid strategy in the first place, given that your goal is the cessation of your enemy’s hostilities rather than revenge? Is it possible to do evil in order to protect good, and keep your soul intact? (See also Serenity, for this one.) Can you ever come back from the edge? Is it even possible to see the edge, except from the other side of it?
But, as good as the story and the acting (and incidentally the history lesson) were, my favorite part was the balance. It takes a real talent to showcase an event that is so clearly delineated as far as who was wrong and who was not, and have sympathy for the people who were wrong without being insulting in the same move. The question I walked away with, and it’s not a question that’s ever gotten burrowed down into my head before, is about what the fate of the Palestinian people will be. Regardless of whether they’re right or wrong, and regardless of who is ultimately to blame for their status, when I think about them now, I see people who are pretty similar to the Jews in 70 A.D. (and not a few other times in their own history), and I wonder what they will be 2000 years from now. Out of a movie made by a Jewish director, that is more than anything else about an atrocity perpetrated on Jewish people. And without being insulting to the memory of that event. Like I said, folks: that’s talent.