Published on 23/02/2006
Another week, another “controversial” film hits the screens. This Spielberg offering focuses on the Munich Olympic Games of 1972, when 11 of the Israeli athletes were assassinated by Palestinian terrorists Black September and the retribution sought by Israel. They ordered five agents from the Mossad to assassinate those responsible for the killings. It is based on true events. It deals with very relevant issues, as we live in a post 9/11 climate meaning we all know the ramifications of terrorism. However, Spielberg was reluctant to make the movie because of the sensitive material, it wasn’t until writer Tony Kushner wrote a version that Spielberg thought could do the material justice that it got the green light.
Indeed, this is by no means a one-sided story. Both sides are fairly represented, particularly in an exchange between chief agent Avner and an Arab in a supposed safe house. Both sides feel very strongly about their home countries and heritage. The message of “there’s no place like home” has never been hammered in more, other than when Dorothy took a trip to Oz. The irony is that as Avner becomes more embroiled in the complicated mission he cannot go home to Israel, uprooting his wife and newborn child to America.
The Mossad choose agents who will not attract attention to themselves and have been plucked from obscure jobs but hold qualities that can be used, such as a toymaker becomes a bomb expert, as both involve fiddly wiring. At first they are detached from the mission but become obsessed with exacting revenge, breaking mission objectives and they too find themselves targets. The message is clear: violence is an endless cycle, as the Iranians respond to the assassinations with more killing. Indeed, it sometimes feels relentless, the movie includes a lot of explicit scenes of violence and the Olympians assassination unfolds alongside the Mossad’s story. It sometimes feels that they have took the long way round telling the story as not to offend anyone. The film’s theme is very bleak and draining, violence solves nothing and is pointless.