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Miscellaneous thoughts and ramblings
Thursday, December 22, 2005
When I first heard about it, I thought for sure I'd be in line to see Spielberg's rendition of the aftermath of the Munich Olympics massacres. Then as the publicity machine cranked up, I grew skeptical. And then, well, sad.

After reviews like this (free reg req'd) and this, I think it's safe to say I won't be seeing it. Why does this make me sad? Well, after Schindler's List and the Shoah Foundation, Spielberg became sometihng of a hero in the Jewish world. Well, at least to me. I stopped by his mother's restaurant and asked her to thank him for me (I'm sure he was elated to hear of my approval.)

But here he had a chance to use his extraordinary influence to hit one out of the park for the good guys, and expose the baddies for what they are. And from all accounts (from critics and supporters alike), it seems he went the moral equivalence route. So terribly, terribly, disappointing.

According to an article in the Los Angeles Jewish Journal, "In today’s political climate, Spielberg knew he couldn’t get away with making the terrorists one-dimensional heavies. The nasty Nazis of 'Raiders of the Lost Ark' wouldn’t cut it."

This is speculation, of course. But I wonder - if Raiders were made today, would "today's political climate" incline Spielberg to "humanize" the Nazis in that film? Is our society demanding that, as well?

Add to this the notion that the book on which the movie is based has largely been labeled a fraud. Apparently there is a new book that tells the real story. (Although, to be fair, who knows about the accuracy of this one? How could it have been reseached, written, and released within a single year?)

One last point: Is it fair of me to criticize the movie without even seeing it? Absolutely. Plenty of people whose opinions I trust have seen it (as have those I don't and who have come to opposite conclusions - Roger Ebert praised it for its equivalence on his show, for example). I reject the notion that one can't comment on art or ideas if one hasn't seen the piece in question. I can say that I believe that hard-core pornography is bad even if I haven't seen all the latest releases. (The fact that I have seen all the latest releases does not negate my point.)

In the end, I think I'll just rent One Day in September.
Read "Black Sunday". Portrays Mossad in (in my mind) the fairest light of most works of it's type. And a damned fine piece of work by Thomas Harris as well.
I see your point of view... nevertheless, I'm a hardcore skeptic and like to see everything for myself. I'll post an assessment as soon as I'll see it.
I have heard similar about this movie. How disappointed I am in Spielberg. Don't think I'll see it.
I was given the George Jonas book by a colleague when I was in residency (actually an intersting guy: he claimed to be a Cuban of Marrano descent). I found it to be an interesting and plausible book. However, it is a work of fiction, and the fact that a director with the credibility of Speilberg is presenting this makes people think that it is fact.

Nevertheless, I'd like to think that if it WERE true, that it portrays Jewish spies in a positive light. The book emphasized that you can't be in the business of killing people without becoming a killer, but for me what it showed was the anguish that the Jewish agents went through regarding the work they had to do, precisely because they were Jewish and different from other counter-terrorism groups.

Jewish hitmen have consciences, unlike the murdering terrorists they were sent to assassinate.

If the movie would present this as its focus, rather than moral equivalence, I think it would have some merit. Unfortunately, from what I hear, this is not the case.
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