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The infamous attack on Isreali athletes and coaches in the Olympic Village during the 1972 Munich Olympics is chronicled in this made-for-TV movie and supplemented with archive footage from the actual games. Members of the Palestinian Black September Movement kill two and hold nine others as hostages to exchange for hundreds of Arab prisoners in Isreali jails. The Isreali government adheres to its policy of not negotiating with terrorists, and German Holocaust guilt will not permit West German officials to allow the terrorists to leave the country with the hostages. Therefore, it falls to Chief of Police Manfred Schreiber to delay fulfilling the Palestinian demands through ongoing negotiation, but sooner or later he knows that tough decisions will have to be made. Written by
21 Hours At Munich tells the tragic story of the Black September terrorists who took Israeli athletes hostage at the 1972 Olympics and issued a demand to the government of Israel that a couple of hundred of their comrades be freed for the lives of these athletes. It was a story that gripped the world at the time and is still sadly relevant for today.
This was a new phenomenon at the time, mindless terrorist acts against civilians and governments then and now can't quite come to grips with the concept of pure evil wrapped in a political cause. Black September no doubt picked the target as Munich not only because of the Olympics, but because of the special significance the city has in the rise of Adolph Hitler. Maybe they thought some sympathy from the authorities might linger from Nazi days.
In that they were much mistaken. The West German government was as mortified and embarrassed by the events as anyone else in the civilized world. This was their opportunity to exhibit a post Nazi Germany to the world and it was horrifyingly blown.
William Holden played the head of the Munich PD in charge of dealing with the problem and it's a sincere and level performance he gives. Chancellor Willy Brandt of West Germany is played by Richard Basehart who is the liberal politician who can't grasp even after Hitler there are some folks that just can't be reasoned with. Other performances of note are Franco Nero as the charismatic Black September leader, a picture of homicidal malevolence just itching to kill and Shirley Knight the negotiator for Holden and the Munich PD.
Stephen Spielberg did a great job in putting this film together which should be required viewing for those finding justice in brutal acts of homicide.
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