Monday, September 21, 2009


I notice something about Steven Spielberg. Maybe because of his Jewish descent, Spielberg had in recent years always brought in themes about 'Jews' into his movies.

"Saving Private Ryan", "The Band of Brotherhood" and "Schindler's List" are a few of Spielberg's work in which I find themes about the Jews. Personally, I love watching movies with a touch of history in it. I find these movies very interesting actually, especially those which touches on Nazism and the Jews. History is very interesting, but not when we need to memorize them for exams, NO IT ISN'T INTERESTING THAT WAY. Spielberg also tend to make movies with themes of violence - involving a lot of gun shooting, blood and killings of people.

So "Munich" is another Steven Spielberg's work with themes of Jews and violence in it. This movie is inspired by a real event that happened in Munich in 1972, which revolves around the Black September Organization and the secret retaliation of the Israeli government after the incident. The movie begins with footages of the Black September Organization's kidnap and murder of eleven Israeli athletes and officials during the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, Germany. Subsequently, the film proceed to depict the story of a team of assassins (led by former Mossad agent, Avner), hunting down and killing a list of Black September members claimed responsible for the Israeli athletes' murder.

Interestingly, this movie is based on a secret Israeli mission but I guess now the secret mission is not so secret anymore. According to Wikipedia (our most trusted source ;P), the film is based on the book Vengeance: The True Story of an Israeli Counter-Terrorist Team by Canadian journalist George Jonas, which in turn was based on the story of Yuval Aviv, who claims to have been a Mossad agent. In the book, Aviv's story is told through a protagonist called 'Avner'.

Anyway, I've heard many great comments about this movie. Typically, when you hear great things about a movie, you tend to have high expectations. And as usually it's not good to have high expectations. It's not a bad movie, but sadly, it's not one that I will be etched into my heart - in other words, quite forgettable. But I do understand why it has been nominated for so many awards. I salute the directing. I mean, of course! This is Spielberg we are talking about. But no seriously, for a person like me who doesn't know much about cinematography (though I'm supposed to know since I'm a broadcast student), I too am impressed with certain scenes in the movie. The overall cinematic delivery is impressive.

Avner's meeting place with his information provider, Louis. This beautiful kitchen is, I believe, an indication of the dream home he wants. It is something that he looks through the glass, something that he can see but can't reach yet. I believe when he looks into this place, looking at his reflection on the glass, gives him a certain motivation to move on with his mission too.

The end scene, Avner is standing on a playground, and the background is the skyscrapers of New York city. Slowly, we see the camera pans across the playground and focus on New York city, indicating the fact that Avner has decided to leave the place where he has been raised (the playground, symbolizing childhood), and turning over a new leaf with his family in Brooklyn, New York.

'Munich' stars Eric Bana who plays the lead former Mossad agent, Avner. Bana is an actor I came to like after watching 'Troy' mainly because I love the character he played, Prince Hector. Personally, in Munich, Eric Bana's performance was not as memorable as his in Troy. I guess it is because I prefer Prince Hector's character more than Avner. No doubt, Avner is a tough man. I mean, if I were Avner, I'm not sure if I would join the secret mission, especially when my wife is about to give birth to a baby.

The movie highlights again the irrationality of world conflicts - the killings of one another which will never stop. I mean it is true isn't it? I mean, first the Palestinians kill the Israelis...then the Israelis seek revenge, killing again a few Arabs, then the Arabs seek revenge again...this goes on and on. When will it stop?

The Jews have been hated for centuries. There is a part where one of the assassin, Robert (the explosive expert) questioned their mission, whether or not killing the members of the Black September is the right thing to do. "Being a Jew is about being righteous...that's what I've been taught."

Righteousness? What does that even mean? I guess sometimes that's the reason why I love movies with themes like these. It makes you question life and the not-so-straightforward things in life. Different people have different opinions and perceptions and principles about righteousness. So if the Jews have been stereotyped, bullied, murdered throughout centuries, is righteousness standing up and fight back by killing the 'enemies' or is righteousness waiting for 'justice' to happen? I guess everyone have their own answer as to which is the best approach...different people have different thoughts and I guess again, the best solution is still an arguable solution.

"There's no peace at the end of this no matter what you believe, you know this is true" - Avner
Some people think that we can seek peace by destroying those who created conflicts. But then again, Avner is right. By destroying these people, we are ourselves contributing to chaos.

In the end, only 2 of the 5 members in the original assassin squad headed by Avner survived. I guess towards the end, Avner himself realize the irrationality of these killings. In the end, Avner was dispirited and disillusioned by the death of his friends and later was paranoid because of his fear about his family's safety. I mean, after killing other people, it is only 'rational' that people will hunt you down and kill you or your family. I guess that's the mental torture that an assassin has to face.

I find Steven Spielberg's movie very surreal. The killings, the victims...everything are done in perfection - they are believing and excruciatingly violent to a point where I really can't stand the scenes. I mean, films like "Final Destination" are supposed to make me squint but then there's always this feeling of 'fakeness' in Final Destination. Steven Spielberg had cooked his films into perfection most of the times. The victims' injuries look real, the way the assassins kill people are believable and genuinely scary....

One of the scariest murder was the one they killed a naked girl by shooting bullets through her throat. I don't know why but it is hauntingly violent to me. I guess that's because that even though the girl was a murderer herself, just seeing a girl being overpowered by a bunch of males is scary.

One of the most touching moment in the movie would be the part where Avner hears his little girl's voice over the phone for the first time. Eric Bana delivered a magnificent performance in this scene.

Touching expression from Bana

I think Avner's wife is also a darn strong women. I mean, she is so so so supportive of her husband and she has to be alone all the time, trusting and believing that her husband is safe wherever he is. It's not easy to have a husband working as a secret agent because you will be always dreading the day when the news of your husband's death is delivered to your doorstep.

Overall, Munich requires a lot of attention and concentration. If you are not in a mood for movies, try not to watch it because then you might not understand the movie and might have problem enjoying it. If you are into historical films, do watch this one because it is really interesting. Besides, it's an award-winning Spielberg masterpiece.

TC-My Rating:


  1. if you put aside personal expression like 'I mean, if I were Avner, I'm not sure if I would join the secret mission, especially when my wife is about to give birth to a baby'

    This review can send to newspaper of the best review you ever wrote....

    I was thinking to write about 'Munich' too, bt now no need la...haha...urs are very desciptive already

  2. Thanks J.T lol, though I think it really is a load of my crap haha...nvr going to be as pro as urs and that's why J.T. You must write about Munich, cuz seriously your reviews are the best ever! Wanna hear what you have to say about it. =D

    The next movie I wanna watch is District 9. Heard it's DARN GOOD!
    No time yet...sigh ;P


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"I love movies for its subjectivity. A movie is debatable. A single scene can mean a million things and the fun part is talking about them."