Sword of Gideon (TV Movie 1986) Poster

(1986 TV Movie)

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An Eye for an Eye
baccamon5 December 2005
With the upcoming release of Steven Spielberg's film Munich, I think it would be a good idea for many people interested in this subject to go out and find this gem (and little known) film to watch first.

There are a few films out there that I never tire of watching -- this is one of them. This is an intelligent film that doesn't gloss over the inner conflicts that each of the Mossad agents must struggle with while performing a "righteous act" for their country to avenge the murders of their fellow Israelis (the 11 athletes).

Moreover, the incorporation of a very well played Golda Meir and her reverberating quotes really bumps this movie up a notch in my view. The makers of this film could have easily sidestepped the decision makers roles, leaving it as a viewer assumption, but fortunately they did not.

This is not a campy "Delta Force" revenge movie from a Chuck Norris/Steven Segal genre of films. The Sword of Gideon challenges us to ponder the real and complex problems of ethics, righteousness, honor, and duty. I'll be interested in seeing how much of this movie Spielberg leverages in "Munich."
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Above average TV movie
agentr633 November 2000
Very good film, above average than most TV movies. The first-rate acting and storyline makes this very watchable, from beginning to end. You actually feel for the characters, and identify with their burdens and shortcomings. Highly recommend. I only regret it's not out on video.
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Good Solid Movie, action, emotion and timely
jrperi20 March 2004
Details accounts of the Israeli goverment seeking out and destroying the terrorists of 1972 Olympics. This movie is in the same vein as The Assignment and Clear and Present Danger. It also explores the emotional component of the assassins and their families. It got spies, action , sex, love, happiness, sadness and it is based on true accounts. What else could you ask for?! Steven Bauer's portrayal as an Israeli is very true to form and impressive. You really do feel his emotional roller coaster and his internal conflict about his role as justice maker or simple revenge. Although the movie begins with a primer of the terrorist attacks at the 1972 Olympics, I recommend seeing One Day in September, directed by Kevin MacDonald and narrated by Michael Douglas, to give yourself a better understanding of the motivation behind this docu-drama. This is a very timely movie considering the upcoming Olympics and the war on terror.
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Tense, fascinating film with several chilling scenes
donby6 October 2002
This tense, fascinating film details how men are recruited into the Israeli Mossad to search for and kill those responsible for the Munich Olympics murders. Also, we see how the men are pressured to stay in the group. Great acting and real locations make it all the more compelling. The morality of what they're doing is questioned at several points, and we see some very chilling assasination scenes.

The ending is a bit of a let-down, but then since it is based on actual events . . . I am not Jewish but found this film to be suspenseful and very involving -- a humdinger.
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Excellent,, fast-paced thriller
dweezilzappa2 January 2006
This movie is on my top ten list. As a character study the actors are very believable; you can feel the tension and emotion. In a nutshell the story is about a hit-squad recruited by the Mossad (Israel's version of the CIA) to find and kill the PLO members responsible for engineering the kidnapping and murder of 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympics. As they travel the globe, one by one they pick them off. Avner (Steven Bauer) is perfect as Avner, a commando leader in the Israeli army, and Colleen Dewhurst even looks like Golda Meir. Each member of the team has a specialty, and their performances are realistic - or at least what you would expect. The scene where Robert checks his apartment for booby traps is riveting. Don't even blink during that! While Steven Spielberg's Munich isn't out as of this review, I can't compare, but I understand the story is basically the same, though at 2-1/2 hours Munich may delve deeper into the story. No matter, I'll still watch Sword of Gideon every time it's on cable.
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First-class thriller based on real events
andyetris3 January 2006
This made-for-TV movie is based on the book "Vengeance" by Jonas. Both are told from the viewpoint of "Avner" (played by Steven Bauer), an agent in Israel's secret service, who is recruited to lead a covert assassination squad dedicated to eliminating the terrorists responsible for the "Black September" attack on Israeli Olympians in Munich in 1972.

Israel launched different initiatives against the "Black September" terrorist organization. Avner's was deeply covert, involving a team of former Mossad agents, officially resigned from the secret agency, who operated completely independently and were paid like mercenaries. In this way the Israelis hoped to avoid disasters like the botched Lillehammer operation that killed an innocent man and resulted in the arrest of agents linked directly to Mossad.

Avner and his team create their own mercenary network using Israeli money and set about their eye-for-an-eye operation. However the stress and paranoia of their task begins to eat away at their resolve and, when a team member is himself assassinated, the team takes its own revenge. Soon they feel unable to trust even their own countrymen...

The telemovie is well done with good pacing and suspense. The moral and ethical issues that are the central theme are handled creditably and you come to care about the team members. There are strong supporting characters, particularly Rod Steiger as the team's Mossad contact "Mordechai Samuels" and Colleen Dewhurst as Israeli PM Golda Meir. Michael York also turns in a nice performance as the team's explosives expert.
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dunsuls29 June 2002
With the events of 9/11 and the middle east suicide bombings,this is still a topical movie.There seem to be 2 versions of this movie,strive for the longer one.Its a HBO film that I saw on a different cable station and then bought the film on EBAY.The film on e-bay was a unedited still in its original box for 86 minutes but with a few scenes cut out.Maybe there was a European vs US issue?At any rate the scenes cut out hightened as point of view in favor of Isreal which I share.This film is propaganda to be sure,but isn't all film? In a powerful scene that was shortened to cut out this statement,Golda Mair the Isreal Premire is explaining to the new Mossad recruit why their cause is rightous.This paraphrase was cut from the short version where she says,"The killed our children while the world played games" Its a haunting film.
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Incredible story.Well acted.
bparker2257 January 2006
Warning: Spoilers
It seems strange to be writing this now after so long.But, after seeing, MUNICH, I felt compelled to write something. This film remains the best interpretation of those tragic events, even though it was done twenty years ago. I saw Sword of Gideon when it first aired on television. Since then I have seen it several times and never failed to be moved by it. It was unforgettable.Well cast and well acted. The narrative was excellent, the characterizations clearly defined. Steven Bauer did an amazing job. I must say that between MUNICH and SWORD OF GIDEON, Gideon is, for me, by far a superior rendering of an anguished moment in world history. When Steven Spielberg decided to offer his own take on this event, I was optimistic. Ciaran Hinds, Daniel Craig, Geoffrey Rush and Eric Bana are superb actors. But for whatever reason, MUNICH just didn't live up to it's promise. Sword of Gideon was a superior interpretation and well worth seeing, even now. The essential facts of the story are well documented and Gideon does an excellent job of presenting them.
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I think the Summary in IMDB is a little misleading...
minastirith7 October 2001
Re the summary of this movie... It is a few years since I saw it, but I do not recall any of the "anti-war" or "anti Israel" sentiment suggested in the summary. Of course one takes movies like this with a pinch of salt from a historical point of view, but the message I got from it was distinctly "Don't Mess With Israel(is)".
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Made-for-TV Fare Worth the Rental Price If . . .
brgr885 June 2002
This drama about the Israeli secret service's attempts at avenging the terrorist murderings of their Olympic athletes in the '70s might not leave you on the edge of your seat, but definitely makes for good watching, and is worth the rental price. (Rod Steiger makes a good showing as a retired Jewish spy!)

Basically, Israeli intelligence (called Mossad) carries out an assassination campaign against the alleged terrorists with varying success. Made-for-TV action sequences have a tendency to be a trifle stale, but in this movie they actually come across with a sense of realism, if not necessarily "edge-of-your-seat" exciting (unlike Hollywood which, while fun & exciting, is about as realistic as the National Enquirer).

This movie will be much more enjoyable to watch if you have at least some background/interest in modern Israeli history, otherwise it's just typical made-for-TV fare...
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Purported docudrama about Mossad vengeance falls a little short.
FISHCAKE30 January 2000
This is a well produced TV movie which purports to be a docudrama about the beginning of the program by the Israeli Mossad to destroy all of the terrorists responsible for the kidnapping and murder of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics. In fact, it seems to me to have very little semblance to authenticity about it. One cannot be sure, of course, but it does not seem that a powerful secret organisation like Mossad would operate as shown here: an independent squad, operating on its own with minimal help beyond the financial from its parent, and depending in part on hired outside organisations for information and assistance. At worst, this film has the smack of anti Israel propaganda; at best, weak-minded, turn-the-other-cheek pacifism. While taking an ostensible stand against vengeance as an effective means of combating terrorism, the philosophy clearly advocated is: do nothing about terrorist murderers and perhaps they will get tired and go away.

The film is not without some merit, though. The psychological pressures on agents of organisations like Mossad, CIA, MI-5, MI-6, the Deuxieme Bureau, etc. must be harrowing for some, perhaps not for others, and of this we are given a good glimpse in the film. The cast and direction are first rate, though editing is typically careless as in most TV movies. It is a film worth watching provided you are on your guard for the propaganda. A portion of the film was done in Israel with an Israeli crew and presumably without opposition from the Israeli government. If this story were turned around and portrayed a Palestinian group unfavorably in going against, say, Mossad agents, can one imagine the government of Libya,Syria, or the like permitting filming within its borders. It is to the credit of Israeli freedom of expression that such a movie was made, even though it would not appear to be friendly in intent.

There is one aspect of Mossad's campaign against the terrorists responsible for the Munich horror which the film omits to mention in its final statement that all the targetted people were killed. This is not quite historically accurate. Mossad is a pretty thorough outfit, but they also killed one more palestinian than targetted--a man who was actually totally innocent of any involvement. This happened in Lillehammer, Norway, a tragic case of mistaken identity. As for the nine terrorists involved directly in the Munich massacre, six were killed in the shootout with the German police, three were captured. These three were later released by the Germans in a hostage deal with the terrorist organisation. Two of these were killed by Mossad, one is still alive.
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enjoyed this picture immensely. saw 'munich' which pretty much follows 'sword of Gideon'
dibick995 January 2006
i just recently viewed 'munich'. i knew that a picture was made which almost mirrored 'munich' but until i remembered that Michael york was a featured player i could not remember the name of the 'sword of Gideon'. i followed 'munich' pretty well since i knew in advance what was going to happen. the major difference, i thought, was that the organization that was supplying the locations of the terrorists to the Israeli team towards the end of 'sword' told them never to get in touch with them again. in 'munich' it seemed Israel's was paying them a tremendous amount of money and they didn't want to lose the income.i would suggest that the viewers see both pictures to compare. i wonder, though, if Spielberg knew about Gideon - or whether he thought his was the original
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Munich's inspiration
smit94725 December 2005
When Psycho was redone, the same camera angles, etc. were utilized as in the original Hitchcock version. Having just seen Munich, The Sword of Gideon inspired a big deja vu. Twenty years later and the great Spielberg could not find a way to improve on Gideon. Gideon's emotion was no less and support from people like Rod Steiger and Colleen Dewhurst is hard to top. The Gideon sets were replicated in the Munich version as well. Interestingly, both movies ran about the same exact amount of time. Bauer's Avner was intense and emotional. If one of these films is to be seen, I'd call it a six of one and half a dozen of the other.
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Former rendition based on revenge executed by a group of Jews, subsequently adapted by Spielberg
ma-cortes2 November 2009
Exceptional treatment about the Munich Olympics massacre 1972 by Arab terrorists and the vengeance inspired by real events. This is the story of a mission that wasn't acknowledge initially when it happened in 1972 , Golda Meier( Golleen Dewhurst and posteriorly was played in ¨Spielberg's Munich¨ version by Lynn Cohen) pulled together a number of government officials and members of the Mossad( Rod Steiger, similar role to Geoffrey Rush) and they decided to put together a list of people that they felt were responsible for what had happened in Munich. And they made the decision to try to go after those people. It's told there was a committee of 10 people decided to ,sort of, try and sentence to death as many as 11,possible more, possible less but it was probably around 11 Palestinian men . Some of the people that were targeted were definitely part of a terror network and some of the people that were targeted were political leaders, intellectual leaders . The idea was to call attention to the world that Israel would no allow this to happen again. And the mission Golda send them on,it's almost an eye for an eye. Golda Meier took the responsibility on her own shoulders. The main dramatic agents are five guys who are assassinating people,the guys are working for intelligence agency and they weren't sociopaths, they were doing their job . The guys are vulnerable, doubtful with no falling into all the obvious clichés of the hit-man with the doubt . The 5 guys (Steven Bauer, Michael York, Robert Joy, Laurent Mallet) all very different ( in recent adaptation are : Eric Bana,Daniel Craig,Matthew Kassovitz,Cirian Hinds,Hans Zischler), age, background,upbringing, some have been bringing up in Europe, some have been in Israel, they have been selected for their different qualities. We might say it's like a quintet,a musical quintet,they are very sharply defined characters in themselves and sometimes their hesitations look like. They have different ways of speaking ,of behaving ,but they know they are are forged together. They are committed to the cause of Israel and they are ready to fight for his land. Avner( Steven Bauer)married young Jewish (Leslie Hope, after performed by Ayolet Zurer) and doesn't really know why he's chose but for some reason he was chosen as the leader though we really know why the others were chosen. In France Avner contacts to Papa (Lino Ventura , later played by Michael Lonsdale) a strange agent who provides with equipment and information.

It's a totally intelligent movie about hatred and revenge,there is no glory or outcome but pure destruction. It was really no the story of the massacre itself but the aftermath . And this very murky, problematic ,complicated story about the policy of targeted assassination . The picture is produced by Denis Heroux using actual locations, he was working on the movie for long time and he assembled every book and documentary on the subject that he could find including all news footage . The director Michael Anderson gives his own point of view on the story and well based on the novel by George Jonas. The story gives a total immersion into the politics and policies with a point of view coming from both sides,not just one side . The starring Steven Bauer gives warmth and a strength and even a little tickle of fear behind his eyes which humanises people,no matter what their jobs and he was very determined to humanise the characters. The cameraman Claude Agostini creates an atmospheric cinematography though is necessary an urgent remastering because of the copy is worn-out. And the master George Delerue composes an evocative score musical. This TV picture is professionally directed by Michael Anderson.
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Above Average TVM
wm_ash22 May 2006
This film has been released in various lengths. The video release (Cineplex Odeon) in Canada has a length of 150 minutes. The DVD release has a length of 172 minutes and is somewhat confusing. The disk itself shows a Platinum release but the DVD content shows no Platinum logo or trademark whatsoever. The DVD cover shows no company at all. The print quality is fairly good - about par for an Eighties TV production.The film was originally produced for television (HBO in the U.S. and CTV Network in Canada).

"Sword" has the same source material as Spielberg's "Munich" and this is reflected in a number of similarities between the two films.

At any rate, "Gideon" can stand on its own merits. It is an absorbing film detailing the Israeli response to the slaughter of their athletes at the Munich Olympics.The acting is effective especially Rod Steiger as their Israeli boss and Collen Dewhurst as Golda Meir.

Considering the limited budget (compared to "Munich") this is a first rate adaptation of Jonas' book.
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Excellent film to search out after seeing Spielberg's "Munich"
andrewlhill131 January 2006
After seeing Spielberg's high-budgeted production based on the book, "Vengeance;" I was entertained but not really connected with any of the agents (Mossad) as they planned and implemented their assigned duties. Most of the IMDb reviews hash out the plot so that is not necessary here. What is necessary is to recommend finding this HBO movie in its uncut length which IS available on DVD. The length enables more intimate contact with all Samuels' collected agents adding, without expensive production values, a much more intense look at the increasing doubt and anger compounded upon Avner and his team following each assigned accomplishment. The scene with Avner sitting in the hospital waiting room having to watch the agony, terror and loss conveyed by the wife and daughter after being advised of the certain death of their husband and father conveys more emotion and sense of doubt than any scene I recall in "Munich." Michael York's search for possible explosive entrapment in the safe house builds tension not provided in "Munich" and is logically more realistic than Spielberg's counterpart of this agent's final assignment. The long film moves quickly and the time is will spent. Again, time to explore characters' motives and feelings can be far more valuable than high-budgeted special effects. (Though the special effects here are not inadequate by any means) In short, seeing this film after "Munich" was a wonderful experience and answered some questions the "Munich" film failed to answer. And, finally, this is a movie based on an historical based fictional book. It is NOT an historical document. Watch and enjoy this fine film.
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Fine movie of its type.
abruckner-125 January 2006
Steven Bauer, an underrated actor, does a magnificent job as head of a team dedicated to avenging the deaths of Israeli athletes. The plot is logical, credible and well-organized. Action scenes are just-plain terrific and the conclusion is excellent.

I particularly liked the care the team took to "get" the criminal while taking great pains not to injure any members of his family, to the point that, when their actions could have injured an innocent, the team called the kill off.

Direction was crisp, and to-the-point with very little wasted footage.

This movie is so good that I fail to understand its absence from the shelves of most video rental/sales stores.
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Munich revenge
searchanddestroy-116 July 2017
You can prefer Steven Spielberg's movie MUNICH or the William Graham's feature, made for TV starring Bill Holden, but this TV stuff from vet Mickey Anderson is very good indeed. Some poignant moments, such as this one when Bauer goes to the hospital, to get confirmation that the Palestinian terrorist was actually dead, and when Bauer watches the victim's daughter crying because of her father death...Watch out for Bauer's eyes. Unforgettable. The sequence when Michael Yirk enters his apartment which he supposes to be trapped is riveting at the most too. But some scenes supposed to be taken in France are certainly not. Architecture shown is definitely not French.
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Interesting if tepid
info-145128 December 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Offers a point of view examination of a group of Isreali Specialists hunting down and killing those Palestinians deemed to be responsible for the killing of Ireali Athletes at Munich . Little or no graphic violence and a predictable pace make this seem un-dynamic and rather stodgy. Most of the main characters are cartoonish caricatures of real operatives , and each specialist is it's own stereotype. ( Formed of the same soft-edged material that cast The Siege ) Fabulous portrayal of Golda Meir by Colleen Dewhurst , interesting if odd role for Rod Steiger , who for once seems engaged in the role .

Biggest Drawback : York plays the same guy in every film , doe it here with gusto. Almost impossible to see Steven Bauer as anything but Manny to Pachinos Scarface .
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Inside look at how Mossad operates - way better than "Munich"
wrxsti543 August 2014
Warning: Spoilers
The story of how Golda Meir, Prime Minister of Israel, ordered the systematic revenge killing of all the Palestinians who planned and executed the PLO massacre of the Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics in 1972 is the stuff of legend. This movie brings the legend alive and in a tighter, more gripping and better acted way that Spielberg's "Munich" did. Stephen Bauer, as the lead agent Avner recruited from the army by a senior Mossad officer, is more convincing than the doubt-ridden Eric Bana.

A transfixing moment of the movie is the meeting Avna has with the IDF Chief of Staff and the Mossad Chief with PM Meir. With the nation of Israel hurting from the tragedy of the Olympic massacre, she sums up the dilemma of Israel and of the travails of the Jewish State as it seeks to exist surrounded by hostile enemies. Her steely resolve to extract full revenge for what the PLO is rendered excellently by Colleen Dewhurst.

Whilst the "Sword of Gideon" tracks some of the actual killings, it portrays the dangerous life of a secret agent doing work of this nature. The movie is made more realistic by superb attention to location detail (made easier than "Munich" by being filmed only 15 years after the events). The camaraderie of the team of assassins is disrupted by the loss of various of the team. The movie explores the devastating emotional impact of both the loss of colleagues but of the brutality required to shoot or blow up the enemy. It also explores the complex motivations of people who do such work with particular attention paid to Avner's attempts to leave his assignment and the lengths his Mossad handler went to emotionally blackmail him to stay working for them.

One comes away with an appreciation for the enormous task Israel faces. The moral dilemma of ensuring only terrorists are killed and the operational mantra to avoid collateral casualties at all costs versus the indiscriminate killing undertaken by the terrorist targets highlights the tightrope Israel must and continues to walk. It cannot allow acts of terror to go unmet as its enemies must know they will fight and fight hard, but in a world increasingly hostile to Israel's existence and the way it fights, it must exercise its considerable power and intelligence expertise with caution. The SOG shows this attitude has been front and center in Israeli operational planning for decades.
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An excellent glimpse into the "War on Terror" in the 70's
jimchape15 June 2010
While based on the same events, this film is a much better movie than the more recent "Munich". The acting is much better, the story is more true to the facts and the writer and director are content to tell a very interesting and exciting story without getting all "preachy" in blaming western civilization for radical Islamic terrorism. The actors in this film gave their characters a depth not seen in many films. This is a tribute to Michael Anderson's direction in bringing this story to life even more than the actor's ability to become characters based on real people and accurately portraying the trials and emotions these real people felt. A good film for anyone who wants a glimpse of the "War on Terror" as it was fought in the 70's. Highly recommended!
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Underrated - way better than Spielberg's "Munich"
sdlmd21 January 2007
This 1986 movie told the same story Steven Spielberg schmalzed up in "Munich" in 2005. But it told it cleaner, and without Spielberg's weird suggestion of moral equivalency between the Mossad commandos and the Palestinian murderers they were hunting. Young Steven Bauer as Avner Kaufman showed the anguish of a civilized man sent to kill other human beings, but without the complete loss of direction that Spielberg's Eric Bana seemed to suffer at the end.

As the civilized world struggles for survival against the forces of Jihadist Islam, this movie is a stark reminder that, still, only Israel takes the threat seriously.
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Munich versus Sword of Gideon-- skip Munich
tmself1 February 2006
Skip Munich and rent this version-- better, tighter script, direction and photography.

In Munich, Eric Bana looks like a deer in the headlights for most of the film. Steven Bauer much more effective, not surprising as he is a better actor. Same for the rest of the cast.

In Munich, angst is way overblown and takes up too much of the film. It takes away from the little suspense the film generates. Avner as portrayed by Bauer has many layers and is a complex individual. Bana's Avner seems just a portrayal of a man in over his head.

Munich has two excellent performances-- the father and son French crime syndicate leaders-- performances in SOG solid across the board.
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Just one problem -- It's a hoax.
mardukhai25 November 2005
The film may be well-made at points, but the original material, the book "Vengeance" by Georg Jonas, has been discredited.

The POV character, a Mossad agent named Avner, is supposed to represent Jonas' source, Yuval Aviv, but Aviv never worked for Mossad. The idea that the Mossad let its agents hang high and dry is ridiculous and denied by all Israelis involved.

The Steven Spielberg film "Munich" -- based on the same discredited book -- is an ideological statement likely to be very anti-Israel. Spielberg appears to have deliberately hired leftist writers known for anti-Israel views.

The ultimate point of any alleged historical drama is that it is supposed to provide a useful introduction to the facts. Sometimes historical characters can be condensed, for example, but they shouldn't be created out of whole clothe, nor should the conclusion be fabricated.
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How does one fight terrorism?
eustfam11 February 2007
Like the character played by Steven Bauer, Avner--he said he had no answers, just questions. I found this film really fascinating as it was based on real events. Munich didn't quite do it for me. I like this version better. Too much angst in Spielberg's version I think--he tried to be politically correct.

Did Golda Meir make the right decision? How does one fight an unseen enemy who has sworn publicly and with terroristic acts, the total annihilation of your country? The Mossad agents were placed in a tight spot...they had to grapple with their consciences... unlike the terrorists who don't care whether their victims are enemy agents or schoolchildren or athletes--in other words, non-combatants.

Does the end justify the means. I don't think so. And this is what the film wishes to convey.
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