June 14- The ambiguity and confusion of counter-terror terror has never been so accurately portrayed- nothing ever goes exactly as intended, and the firefights and bombing scenes are very realistic and harrowing. This actually shows the effect of a machine gun ripping through a human body, not the TV cartoon violence of thousands of shots without ever hitting someone. The killing of the gorgeous Dutch seductress assassin (a Montreal Naomi Watts type) is one of the most horrible ever displayed. "Such a waste," she says as she's killed. The shadow war of retaliatory killings unfold as regular Palestinian terrorist events happen in the background, sometimes in apparent retaliation (vaguely remembered from my semi-youth).The Munich massacre was searingly and relatively accurately depicted. The incredible moral quandary of becoming what you hate, and are warring against, is vividly displayed and has immediate application to America, where our Bike Boy President and his nitwit neocons are disemboweling the Bill of Rights, sanctioning torture of innocents, and lying us into a conflict of faiths that could last generations.
Munich is based on a semi-discredited 1984 book: Vengeance, which already produced a 1986 movie: The Sword of Gideon. "Munich" doesn't claim strict historical accuracy. Many of the Israeli assassination targets had little or nothing to do with Munich; amazingly the alleged mastermind Abu Daoud(who was shot 6 times by Israelis but survived) claims the unwitting financier of the Munich kidnappings was Mahmoud Abbas- current Palestinian Authority President. Much confusion exists over whether the remaining 3 terrorists were later killed by Israeli hit squads or not- 2 may have been, but at least one was alive in 1999 for a documentary One Day in Sept.
Spielberg addresses the book controversy at the beginning of the DVD, saying "Vengeance" was attacked but never discredited. He does avoid the most atrocious event of the Mossad vendetta- the killing of the wrong man in a street in Norway, which publicly outed the whole plot. The Palestinians aren't cardboard cutouts, in the most impossible scene PLO gunmen and the Israeli hit squad share a safe-house after a long standoff ("ETA- Basque!", scream the Mossad men). After, Eric Bana and a PLO guy argue about Palestine and the Palestinian has the same motivations- honor, homeland, family, stopping them from killing us. No way they wouldn't make them for Israelis, though.
According to a new book, Striking Back, the tragedy in the 1972 Olympics was the result of incompetent, pompous, cowardly German officials. It was run by blithering blow hard Bavarian bureaucrats, who because of the German Constitution, had almost complete autonomy- nothing of the rescue was run by the national German Gov.- it was all Bavarian and Munich police, who had no anti-terrorist training. In fact, there was no such thing in demilitarized Germany- no SWAT, no special forces, no anti-terrorists. The top Israelis who flew in were ignored and abused- their offer of a counter-terrorist squad rejected. Because they had no experience at all with Germany, because of..... the past (only 27 years from the death camps), they thought the Germans would run the rescue with their usual devastating efficiency and effectiveness. They couldn't have been more wrong.
First the Munchkens had a group of assault cops dressed on track suits assemble on top of the Israeli building- in full view of TV cameras airing footage to the Palestinians. Forced to retreat there, they sent the terrorists and captives by 2 helicopters to a military airfield, where a 727 was supposed to take them Cairo, but an ambush by sharpshooters was actually planned. 6-10 Munich police dressed as crew simply bailed out of the plane while the helicopter was in flight without telling anyone- it was suicidal, they thought. They were probably right- they still were wearing their police pants with Lufthansa jackets. They thought there were only 5 hijackers; when there were 8 (4 were employees at the Olympics); they had only 5 marksmen there out of 29 in the area, they had no proper searchlights, no night vision gear or scopes, no radios, no generator power, no armored cars, no forces or plans to storm the plane if things went bad.
"Later it was discovered that one of the snipers never fired a shot, and yet another sniper was positioned directly in the line of friendly fire, without any protective gear"-Wikipedia They just opened fire- killing 3 terrorists- and commencing an hour and a half firefight. The remaining terrorists quickly knocked out the 3 light stands with grenades, so snipers were firing in the dark. The Chermans refused to storm the plane, and insisted on waiting for armored cars. When they appeared, however, the hostage takers, realizing the game was up- blew up one helicopter with hogtied hostages with a grenade, and wiped out the rest with machine gun bursts. The Germans did kill 2 more hijackers after the massacre; 3 survived and were released 2 months later when Black September hijacked a Lufthansa jet. They were flown to Libya for a heroes welcome. German firefighters refused to go in and put out the fire even when the terrorists left- one hostage died of smoke inhalation.
To their credit, German officials did offer to exchange themselves for the Israelis, or an infinite amount of money, and one cop was killed in the shootout. Somehow the story got promulgated that all the hostages were safe, and Israelis and much of the world wept in relief. Then, like in the West Virginia mine disaster, they wept much more. The good Bavarian burghers stonewalled the Israeli families for decades, denying the existence of any documents about the case, giving them nothing in info or compensation (Israel also did nothing) until 2002. Finally- in 2004, they offered $114K to each of the 36 family members, now only 27. Disgraceful.
Truly a masterpiece, and a film that will have you thinking, and remembering- long after you see it.
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