Friday, December 11, 2009

Wrestling With Munich

Spielberg in the 00s Previous: War of the Worlds Next: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Spielberg’s most controversial movie is controversial because it makes you think and question the things some people believe very strongly. For many evangelical Christians in the Bible-belt it goes against some things they hold dear. Some seem to think that Israel can do no wrong. (Have they read the Bible lately?) Some think that “supporting” God’s people means that you can never question their actions. (What was Jesus doing the whole time He was among them?) For the more politically “Religious Right” the movie’s struggle with America’s actions under a Republican leadership that are obviously alluded to here are the problem.

Back during World War II things were so much easier. Hollywood was conscripted by the US armed forces to churn out propaganda that depicted, not just fascists, but all Germans and Japanese as monsters and all Americans as heroes. Here, Spielberg shows us an attacked government in Israel taking steps to, if not defend themselves, at least make a statement against the awful atrocity committed against them. However, we see the men used by that government having to struggle with the terrible plans they are asked to carry out. At the same time, the men behind the terrorist attacks are sometimes shown in a sympathetic light—or at least as human beings and not monsters.

In not taking sides, Spielberg perhaps avoids the difficult task of making a moral judgment call about what occurred after the Munich attacks, but he also forces the viewer to make that judgment. That is something a lot of audiences are not willing to do. They prefer to be told what to think. Especially a lot of those two groups mentioned above.

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