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An examination of the role played by the Israeli intelligence service, Mossad, in connection with eleven suspicious murders during the aftermath of the 1972 Munich Olympics massacre. These murders were thought to have been revenge attacks for the murder of the Israeli athletes, and have always been officially denied by Israel; however, there is evidence of a secret assassination policy. Written by
An imperfect documentary that leans towards dramatisation but is still interesting and well balanced
With Munich hitting the cinemas in the UK, channel 4 brought out this documentary that uses contributions from those involved to reconstruct the revenge killings supposedly carried out by the Israeli government in response to the killing of the Israeli athletes by Palestinians at the Munich Olympic games on the 5th September 1972. With the film producing a bit of debate about how the facts are presented and how some of the detail is wholly fictional (plus the average reviews it got) I decided not to bother (maybe I'll get it on TV?) but instead just gave this documentary a try.
This channel 4 film uses the testimony of the assassins themselves (disguised and portrayed by actors of course) along with some experts and those who knew what was going on at the time. As with many of the dramatisation documentaries the narration cannot help but talk the material up and it is delivered over a brooding soundtrack in a way that I felt was more suitable for something like Crime Watch etc. However it was the clear, factual delivery of the film that made it interesting. It went from the start through each victim and discussed each killing while also allowing all the talking heads to state opinions along the way. The result of this approach is to provide a balanced film that does not judge either side for what happened but instead lets the heads do the talking in a balanced way. The contributions from the assassins themselves (and I have no choice but to believe they are who they claim to be) are interesting and helpful but they aren't given as much time as I would have liked considering what a scoop it was to get them.
The dramatisations of the killings were good because they were not acted so much as acted out. Therefore we didn't have the problem of character or hammy performances and instead they were more reconstructions that dramatisations. The subject matter itself was interesting and the film did a good job of making it so; it connected it to the wider trouble in the Middle East (where both sides come across as terrorist if you ask me I know you didn't) and also set it in the context of the time. It is not without its flaws and the brooding soundtrack undermined its claims to be a serious documentary on the subject but it is still interesting and engaging enough to do the job (and at less than half the running time of Spielberg's film). Overall not a brilliant documentary but still interesting and would probably make a good companion piece to the film version.
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