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Tuesday, January 31, 2006


On company time, with company dime, I saw Munich last week. In a few weeks I will be charged with leading a discussion group for Jewish seniors who would like to trade opinions about the film over coffee and bagels. I'm looking forward to the experience but terrified about discussing a movie that I found totally devastating and powerfully ambivalent toward Israeli policy with a Jewish audience. I don't have much hand with this crowd, so my plan is to sit back and try to observe how the conversation goes without getting emotional.

During the actual movie, I remained unemotional until the ending credits, when I held my head in my hands and cried until the music stopped and the lights came up. I've never seen a movie that had such a delayed emotional impact. I have to tip my hat to Mssrs. Spielberg and Kushner for engaging me in a taught drama through to the end (although I further distracted myself from my emotions by spending the three hours furiously attempting to scribble notes on a legal pad in the black of the theater.) Afterward, the sheer futility and seemingly unsolvable tragedy of it all overwhelmed me. And this is why I don't believe Spielberg or Kushner have forsaken their Jewish brethren or even the Zionists among them. Central to the script is a heartbreaking attempt by the Israeli assassins to fit their actions into the schema of their religious faith... but ultimately they fail; as would anyone who tried to fit the moral questions of a nation into the ethical framework of our individual lives... especially a nation at war. We are, as individuals, unequipped to handle the ethical responsibility of assassination. We (Israel, the US, the PLO, the IRA, etc.) have always demanded that our citizens perform acts of butchery and have never been able to pick up the shattered pieces of those soldiers' souls afterward. Spielberg and Kushner are not crucifying Israel, instead they have built their tragedy on this moral paradox. There is no right answer. And though there are always zealots who find that view unacceptable, it is the truth. And it is not unpatriotic to say so.

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At 2/23/2006 02:48:00 PM, Blogger quills said...

Saw the movie Munich and loved it..fine directing, fine acting and I like the underlying theory that Spielberg is trying to share..violence begets more violence and never is a solution.


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