Steven Spielberg has always been a surefire type of director to go to if you want a high quality film. I was first introduced to Spielberg’s work via his groundbreaking film Jaws. Since then, Spielberg has continued to churn out hit after hit from 1993’s Schindler’s List which was awarded a Best Picture Oscar to his most recent film 2005’s Munich. Both of these particular films have gained numerous political and critical praise for the messages and raw power they both contained via the film’s int…nse imagery and story. I’ve always viewed Schindler’s List as my favorite film simply because of the impact the film had on me. After watching Spielberg’s latest masterpiece Munich, I can now say that the film is high up on my list nearly dethroning Schindler’s List.
Munich opens with the 1972 events that took place at the Munich Olympics where terrorists took hostages and killed them for the simple goal of wanting peace for their homeland. The event is re-enacted in near heart-stopping moments due the raw silent scenery that Spielberg creates. We then move to a room where we meet Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir (Lynn Cohen) sitting with her cabinet. She utters the line “Forget peace for now.” We learn that Meir has decided to establish a secret Israeli revenge squad. What’s the goal of this squad? Why simply to kill the men who were responsible for these heinous attacks. The question that was eventually raised, long after the events in the film, was why kill these men? Men who will simply be replaced by more and more powerful and intense men who will want to do even more harm.
One of the five men who will be on this squad is played by Eric Bana. Avner (Bana) was a former bodyguard to Meir, is made the team leader of this squad. All of the men are paid from via money no one has ever seen from banks no one have ever stepped into via people no one has ever dealt with. As you can see, this squadron has had every minute detail taken into thought. Avner and his men deal with a man named Ephriam (Geoffrey Rush). The four other men are Robert (Mathieu Kassovitz) a toymaker who is an expert at disarming bombs; Carl (Ciaran Hinds) who removes the evidence after any event; Steve (Daniel Craig) who is the trigger man, and Hans (Hanns Zischler) who can forge any letter or document. All five men travel around with assumed names and false passports. This is an interesting concept because we wonder, as an audience, why they would need to do something like this, as it’s publicly known that Israel plans to retaliate. After all, each of the attacks that they accomplish is done with grenades and explosives instead of simple bullets, thus making each event a public spectacle.
The assassination attempts on these men result in many of the film’s key moments. Spielberg has always been successful at creating intense moments of drama on screen. Plastic little bombs are planted in random locales; booby traps are set for the assailants, and an interesting scene where a young girl has to answer a phone. The scene itself doesn’t sound too exciting on paper, but the way Spielberg directs the scene results in a rather thrilling, edge of your seat, scene. The five men move from capital to capital chasing this Black September group. There is one particular scene, where Avner and his men do something (I don’t want to reveal this), which results in Avner questioning his job and role in this team (one of the more interesting questions the film presents).
Spielberg has been recently attacked for making this film in a manner that he was similarly attacked for making Schindler’s List. Spielberg, who since making the aforementioned film, has done much to help assist and build the community of the Jewish people via the Shoah Foundation, is now on both sides of the fence for the issues he has raised in Munich. We learn in the film via a scene where a mother informs her son why the state of Israel was founded. “We had to take it because no one would ever give it to us. Whatever it takes, whatever it takes, we have a place on earth to call our own.” After viewing this film, many believe that Spielberg didn’t necessarily have to make Munich, but he did to not only answer and present some views and questions he had, but also made the film to present the idea that any nation that believes in itself has to question the idea if it must, as a country, compromise its own values to defend them.
Munich may quite possibly be Spielberg’s finest film to date, which is quite the honor considering the resume this man has. The film has heart, emotion, suspense, absorbing scenes, effective and convincing acting from all parts, excellent directing, fine music from John Williams (quite haunting in many scenes), and, most importantly, extremely interesting thoughts and questions. If you are a fan of Spielberg’s work, particularly Schindler’s List, Munich will be right down your aisle as the film may be the film that holds every little piece and ingredient that makes a cinematic film truly great.
Munich is presented in a Widescreen Anamorphic Aspect Ratio of 2:35:1. Scenery is quite gritty from the dark scenery that is briefly created after the scenes of Munich to the simple vehicles that were used. Quite possibly the amount of grittiness is artistically used to create the level of emotion that these events had. Colors are clear while it seemed like the colors on the palette were mostly light grays and dark reds to symbolize the grayness of the events and the horror of death. The only fault I saw was a few instances of grain around the 2:19 mark. Otherwise from this, the image quality was in order per the usual Universal DVD release.
The film is given a Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound Audio Track. The audio track, while mostly dialogue driven, does receive a bit of response during some of the heavier scenes, especially some of the explosions (See 1:05 in the film). Dialogue is clear from the center channel; the surrounds provide us all the levels of response we desire via instances speeding bullets around 5:00, while the sub gets a decent workout from the plastic bombs. I must comment on the effective use of slowing down the dialogue and all surrounds during some of the scenes, particularly around the 23-24 minute mark where Avner is trying to think about the assassination. The score by the extraordinary John Williams is ever so haunting that more than gets the job done. The music is quite and is so sublime that we can almost close our eyes to experience the events in our mind. A top notch effort here.
Like many recent big films, Munich is being released in an extremely scant one disc edition and a lavish two disc edition.
- An Introduction From Steven Spielberg: Before the film beings, we get an introduction from Director Steven Spielberg where he speaks on why he felt he had to make the film and the messages he hoped the film achieved in audiences’ mind’s.
Munich is a raw, gritty, powerful film from one of the best director’s to ever step behind the camera lens. Spielberg, no matter what subjects he tackles, is always able to deliver films of excellent quality through his imagery mind. The DVD of Munich boasts fine picture and audio, but only one feature on the single disc edition (probably due to the film’s near three hour length.) Grab the two-disc edition and be prepared to be taken into the world of the latest Spielberg masterpiece.
Special Features List
- An Introduction From Steven Spielberg