Monday, January 23, 2006

In the comments at Kesher Talk, saxcriminal points to an interesting interview in the London Times with Steven Spielberg about his film, Munich. Saxcriminal thinks it lame; I think it is interesting, if only because it shows the extent of Spielberg's self-delusion.

It turns out now that even George Jonas, the author of the much discredited work, Vengeance, on which Munich is based, believes that Spielberg does something which his book never did, which is elide the difference between terrorism and counter-terrorism.

Ooh, the ironies just compound and compound.

Jonas himself, the originator of Avner in his book, insists that “my Avner may have questioned the utility of his mission toward the end — targeted assassinations barely slowed down terrorism, let alone stopped it — but he never questioned the morality of what his country had asked him to do. He had no pangs of guilt”...

Jonas has another charge: “Spielberg’s Munich follows the letter of my book closely enough. The spirit is almost the opposite. Vengeance holds there is a difference between terrorism and counterterrorism; Munich suggests there isn’t. The book has no trouble telling an act of war from a war crime; the film finds it difficult. Spielberg’s movie worries about the moral trap of resisting terror; my book worries about the moral trap of not resisting it.”

This is the argument of those who accuse Spielberg of the “sin of equivalency”. The director denies that he is simplistically postulating that violence begets violence.

While the interview is entitled Disagree wtih me - that's what I want, a sentiment he echoes in the interview, it turns out that, like many in Hollywood, Spielberg is absolutely unequipped emotionally to deal with the reality of people disagreeing with him.

Spielberg countered: “It is fascinating to watch people who really only want their assumptions confirmed by what they are taking into the theatre. They go into the film and they shave off everything and anything that challenges their assumptions. They sculpt this movie to be what they want it to be. They are really looking for a simple-minded thesis.

And then, of course there are filmmakers, who take history itself and shave off everything that doesn't fit their simple minded theses. But that's art, which ya know is high-minded. So that's all right then.

To continue with Spielberg:
“I think the film is effective because it does what history books really can’t do, which is to ask questions that may not have an immediate answer, and I think this frustrates people.

And it frustrates people even more when the questions asked are based on a fantasy and speciousness rather than history itself.

“I have always been taught that in democratic society discussion is the greatest good you can perform, the most valuable thing you can do. It’s part of my Jewish tradition and it’s Talmudic. I encourage people to agree or disagree with what I am doing. But not by saying it was bad to have ever made this film. That’s political censorship disguised as criticism and that’s not what I am accustomed to in the marketplace of democracy.”

And of course Spielberg loves and supports Israel, so whatever he does to tarnish her image publicly is thereby excused.


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