i saw munich last weekend. it's a very provocative film, well worth seeing. in fact, (in part because mrs. noz was away when i saw it), i will probably end up seeing it again.
it's been a while since i read so much about a film before it came out. weeks ago the movie was already trashed as being a drawn-out apology for terrorism or "drawing moral equivalence" between the israelis and palestinians. my aunt and uncle are boycotting the film precisely because they have heard the movie is "anti-israel." but after seeing the film its clear that such criticism is off base. so far off base that i wonder where some of these charges came from in the first place. there have been plenty of times that i've see a film was branded by its critics as having a certain political message and i come out thinking the critics misinterpreted the film.
but coming out of munich i was positive that the harshest critics had never seen the film at all. in fact, a few critics have even admitted that they didn't bother to see it (ben shapiro's attempt to trash the film is my absolute favorite. you just can't make up a sentence as contradictory and stupid as this line from his column: "I can't criticize the movie itself until I've seen it, but this film has all the hallmarks of a high-handed, elitist, Hollywood view of foreign policy.")
when i saw the film, i didn't see any attempts to draw any parallels between the israeli mossad and palestinian terrorists, even though the film could have easily gone that route. instead, the movie was unambiguously from an israeli viewpoint. the israelis discuss what they are doing and the moral issues surrounding them throughout. in several different scenes, the israeli agents go out of their way to avoid killing innocents. in one scene the mossad agents debate whether a target's bodyguards are themselves legitimate targets. meanwhile, the news reports tell us of the palestinians' retaliatory strikes that target civilians. if the terrorists are having a similar debate over the morality of their strikes, it does not appear anywhere in the film.
that's not to say that the film is not critical of israeli policy. the characters in "munich" continuously grapple with the difficult moral issues surrounding israel's retaliatory assassination policy. and, moral issues aside, the film suggests that that israeli policy is simply ineffective. all of the individuals who the mossad assassinates are replaced, often by people more ruthless and violent than their predecessors, and each hit triggers a violent retaliatory strike, leaving scores of civilians dead. by the end, you are faced with a country that has compromised its values in the name of self-defense, but is probably less secure than it was when it started.
"munich" also contains a clear criticism of post-9/11 american policy. the criticism is only by implication; the film never gets out of the 1970s before it ends. but the final scene makes it clear that the parallel is intentional. actually, that final scene went a little too far in my opinion. i think it would have been better if the visual element in that scene were left out.
one thing the film does not do is attempt to tell the story of the terrorist attack against the israeli athletes at the 1972 munich olympic games. the attack is the event that triggers the events depicted in the film, but the circumstances of munich are shown mostly in flashback. "munich" the movie is about the response, not the attack itself. if you want to learn more about the attack, a better source is the 1999 documentary one day in september, another film that i highly recommend.