Saturday, December 18, 2010

Spielberg's 9/11


In 2005, Spielberg did what he had done in 1989, 1993, 1997 and 2002, that is make two films in the same year. This feat is pretty incredible in and of itself, especially in modern Hollywood, and though it seemed to follow in the standard formula of blockbuster in the summer and serious film in the winter, the two films are really more alike than they are different. War of the Worlds and Munich are both, essentially, reactions to September 11th - the former is a channeling of the imagery from the attack through science fiction aesthetics, the latter is a philosophical consideration of the aftermath via a combination of an early shared memory of Israel/Palestine relations and, fittingly, 70's spy movie tropes. Together they form a rich, fascinating tandem, and still stand as amongst the most thoughtful reactions to the September 11th attacks by an American artist.

When I saw War of the Worlds when it was released in the summer of 2005, my opinion was pretty much in line with that of many other people - that it was a failure with some effective moments, that Spielberg's sappiness ruined the ending, and so on. When I saw Munich later that year I was forced to reconsider a film I had dismissed, because Munich made me stop viewing War of the Worlds as a piece of summer entertainment and made me think of it as a serious consideration of 9/11, as Munich most certainly is. Now I think of War of the Worlds as the dream and Munich as the reality, like when you wake up after a nightmare and begin to comprehend the imagery and dream logic; that which seemed irrational or nonsensical while you slept suddenly makes perfect sense.

Spielberg subverts standard blockbuster formula with War of the Worlds, which is all too fitting as he allegedly invented the genre (which is another topic for another day). War of the Worlds is, essentially, the world's first avant-garde blockbuster. Upon its release in the summer of 2005, though the film did well at the box office, everyone I spoke to about War of the Worlds treated it with a kind of hostility, and I think that's because it does not aim to excite, it aims to capture an emotional frame of mind, and a painful one at that. There are moments in the film that are downright frightening. It is a masterful, if imperfect, symbiosis of 1950s martian mythology - itself symbolic of communism hysteria - and imagery directly inspired by the September 11th attacks and our subsequent invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. Spielberg forces us to see ourselves on the wrong end of an invasion - which is truly radical in a time when the media barely documents the atrocities of the wars we wage - by reminding us what our home looked like as a warzone, and then expanding that nightmare to a full scale invasion. But rather than using the imagery as a gateway to cheap thrills by justifying our knee jerk desires for revenge and further brutality, Spielberg vividly dramatizes what an invasion looks and feels like, turning the American landscape into a desolate warzone. 9/11 was a nightmare, but it was only a glimpse into the true nature of living in a place where war is being waged, and Spielberg's film serves as a powerful visualization of invasion and occupation - something the United States has never been on the receiving end of. As Wells' novel, written at the height of the English empire, was a blatant allegory for the spread of imperialism and colonialism it's only fitting that Spielberg, King of Hollywood, shift the setting of the film to the modern day United States.

By recontextualizing Wells' text to modern America, Spielberg is able to express themes that have been vital to his work throughout his career while still remaining faithful to the source material. By making the film's central character the typical Spielberg absent father, Spielberg is able to examine the issues of family that have been so vital to his work. As in his first feature, The Sugarland Express, Spielberg paints a portrait of a parent who is really still a child, who has been unable (or unwilling) to grow up, and the casting of Tom Cruise as the perpetual adolescent is a stunning example of casting against type. I've always thought Cruise was a better actor than he was given credit for, and the way he portrays his characters transformation from an immature, incompetent man to a capable, mature father is truly remarkable. It probably didn't hurt that he was given a fully capable co-star, whom he shares many of the film's most deeply affecting moments with, Dakota Fanning, in one of the best performances Spielberg has ever received from his child performers (which is saying something).

Spielberg's affinity for familial drama is put brilliantly on display early on, when the tensions begin between Tom Cruise's Ray Ferrier and his teenage son, Robbie. What other film maker could use a simple game of catch between a father and son to express the emotional distance between them? Only Spielberg could elevate such iconographic American imagery as a father and son tossing a baseball in the backyard into something so intimately personal. Ray, who has been seen adorning a Yankee cap for the entire film, is miffed when his son comes for a weekend visit wearing a Boston Red Sox cap. This detail could have been merely juvenile bickering, but in Spielberg's hands this visual detail becomes truly heartbreaking, a metaphor for how Ray Ferrier has lost his children in the time since he divorced his wife. Spielberg, by shifting the focus from the children onto the neglectful father, challenges himself to sympathize with a character he has demonized in the past.

The examination of the dissolution of the nuclear family in the modern era gives Spielberg an emotional vessel to illustrate the manner in which extreme trauma is capable of at once uniting and dividing humans; Spielberg's martian invasion brings out the best and worst in humanity simultaneously. There is a harrowing sequence where the Ferrier family, who have one of the few working automobiles left, suddenly find themselves in a town surrounded by hungry, exhausted, desperate people who steal their car from them - one particularly unsettling image shows a man breaking the windshield glass with his bare hands. The person I saw the film with in 2005 criticized this moment as being unrealistic, whereas I felt the exact opposite, that the sequence is an all too accurate dramatization of exactly what would happen - it wouldn't even require a disaster on the magnitude of an alien invasion to unleash our barely restrained animal instincts. In Spielberg's 2002 film Minority Report, a character has a line that essentially serves as the precursor for this scene in War of the Worlds. "It's funny how all living organisms are alike. When the chips are down, when the pressure is on, every creature on the face of the Earth is interested in one thing, and one thing only: its own survival". Though this sounds like a cynical sentiment, it's really not, as we are animals and our latent desire to survive above all else is something that Spielberg has elevated to profound heights in films like Schindler's List, A.I., and here in War of the Worlds. All of Spielberg's films are, essentially, survivor's stories, which makes the ending of the film where Robbie inexplicably turns up alive - which is a very accurate approximation of the book's ending, for what it's worth - not as out of place or absurd as it has been accused of being. Yes, it's a bit contrived, but people have been shown to be capable of surviving against all odds - let's not forget that there were people on 9/11 who survived having 110 story buildings collapse onto them. To quote Dr. Ian Malcom from Jurassic Park, "Life finds a way".

Spielberg has said that they key image he took away from September 11th was people walking in large groups away from Ground Zero, and he channels that imagery of mass exodus beautifully in War of the Worlds, filtering an almost absurd science fiction concept through our collective memory of our home being attacked. Spielberg invokes the attack to give way to catharsis, challenging us to stop seeing 9/11 as something that happened to the United States and to instead view it as something that happened to the human race. I may not have responded to Spielberg's profoundly empathetic sentiments the first time I saw War of the Worlds, but little did I know at the time that Spielberg was in the process of making a film that would turn the very concept of national identity on its head.


War of the Worlds forces you to relive September 11th. Munich, on the other hand, forces you to think about it. Though War of the Worlds deals with the attack more directly, the fact that Munich fictionalizes a real life event - the massacre at the 1972 Olympics - allows Spielberg to draw a direct parallel between an event that introduced many in the United States to the realities of radical Islam and September 11th . Munich begins with the members of Black September hopping a chain link fence and breaking into the Israeli athlete's hotel room and ends with a shot of the World Trade Center, and Spielberg here is illustrating that the events at the Munich Olympics in 1972 and the atrocity in September of 2001 are directly linked, and Munich can be viewed as serving as a straight line between the two events.

Spielberg always claimed that Raiders of the Lost Ark was the result of his desire to make a James Bond movie, but we could argue that Munich is actually his 007 movie - but it's a Bond movie as only he could do it, one that thoughtfully considers identity on both a personal and national level, that evaluates the morality of killing another human being, that analyzes the sacrifice a person must make to become an assassin. It's James Bond with a moral center, in other words (though obviously morality is not the reason we watch 007 movies). In Munich Spielberg transcends nationalism before the film properly begins, as the title sequence shows a collage of major world cities before ultimately highlighting the word "Munich" - rather than portraying this act of terrorism as something that happened to Jews or to Germany or to any one group of people, Spielberg is suggesting throughout Munich that this was a tragedy that happened to the human race, that the murder of human beings is something that should be treated as tragedy regardless of your religious, ethnic, or political affiliations.

Munich is, at its heart, the tragedy of a man - that man being Avner, in an unforgettable performance from Erica Bana. We are introduced to Avner at the end of a long montage showing people of various backgrounds - Israeli, Palestinian, families of both the athletes and the members of Black September - watching the events unfold on television; as with September 11th, this is a tragedy that television was an inseparable part of, where the news reports are a vital element of the popular conception of the event. Spielberg captures the feeling of being glued to your television by this real life drama beautifully in these opening sequences. The next day, Avner is contacted by no less than Golda Meir herself, who requests that he lead a mission of retaliation against the architects of the Munich massacre, essentially Government sponsored terrorism in the name of revenge. Out of a sense of duty to his people and his country, he accepts, not realizing that by agreeing to take part in this mission that he will lose his soul as well as his cultural and spiritual identity in the process.

In the hands of lesser artists, Avner could have been an empty symbol, but Tony Kushner (whose screenplay surely ranks amongst the very best of the last 10 years), Spielberg and Bana manage to make Avner work on both a symbolic level and as a flesh and blood human being. The same is true of the supporting players - Daniel Craig's Steve, a nationalist who has no moral qualms about the mission and makes this fact repeatedly known, Ciaran Hinds' Carl, who has nothing but moral qualms about the mission, Geoffrey Rush's Ephraim, the pencil pushing bureaucrat - who, between the quality of the writing and the excellence of the performers, manage to play Kushner's admittedly philosophy-heavy script as very real human drama. But it is Avner who is the heart of the film, and Bana plays his pathological dissent into guilt, paranoia, and borderline insanity masterfully.

The tragedy of Avner is that, at the outset of his mission, he truthfully believes that what he's doing is right, and as the mission presses on he gradually comes to the realization that killing is not only wrong but that it doesn't accomplish anything; that anyone you kill will only be replaced by someone who is even worse, that murdering your enemy will only escalate their desire to bring harm to you - essentially, Avner comes to understand the reciprocal nature of violence over the course of the film. More than violence being morally reprehensible, it doesn't solve a damn thing except our desire for bloodshed, which is only a temporary fix anyway. Yes, Avner loses the notion of Israel as a home over the course of his mission, but he gains a philosophical enlightenment by becoming a man without an ethnic identity; he stops seeing humans as a collection of countries and religions and sees us all as one. That Munich was accused of being anti-Israel by some and anti-Palestine by others (depending on your bias) illustrates the depth of the film's powerfully anti-nationalistic, humanistic sentiments.

Avner is clearly meant to represent a certain discontent that Spielberg and Kushner feel as pacifists with the militant actions of Israel. Late in the film, Avner's mother has a beautiful speech about how whatever he did - and she doesn't actually want to know - was worthwhile because it means the Jews "now have a place on Earth". Kushner and Spielberg certainly aren't arguing that the Jews don't deserve to have a home, they're just theorizing on what extents are acceptable to ensure that they don't lose that place on Earth. Avner - and by extension Kushner and Spielberg - draw the line at bloodshed, radically suggesting that the murder of another person is wrong regardless of if it's in the name of revenge, country, or religion. In a time when the United States launches invasions predicated on the concept of vengeance, this is a truly bold sentiment.

The film's brilliant final scene - which features some of the best screen acting you are ever likely to see - sends this message home in a powerful way. It details the final meeting between Ephraim and Avner, and in it Avner makes his stance clear that he firmly believes that the mission he undertook was wrong, while Ephraim argues that what he did was brutal but necessary; he reminds him that he did what he did he did for "the future, for Israel... for peace", to which Avner responds "There's no peace at the end of this". While Ephraim still believes in his responsibility to his country above all else, Avner has comes to the realization that his responsibility to humanity overrides his responsibility to his country. Avner invites Ephraim to break bread with him, and Ephraim refuses - it's a truly devastating moment, but their worldviews are ultimately irreconcilable. As Avner walks back to his Brooklyn apartment, alone, the camera pans to reveal the World Trade Center off in the distance simply waiting to be destroyed, another casualty in the war between Israel and Palestine. Here, Spielberg cuts through the nonsense we were fed by our Government after the attacks - that we were attacked because those stinking Arabs hate freedom, democracy, and capitalism - and acknowledges that 9/11 happened for political as well as religious reasons. September 11th was another act of retribution, and it has only yielded further murder and destruction in the name of revenge.

25 comments:

Roderick Heath said...

A great piece and a great start to the blogathon, Ryan.

Adam Zanzie said...

What Rod said. And what Kevin said, too, about how you may have saved him the trouble of writing a War of the Worlds piece. I was planning a WOTW piece myself, but now I'm not so sure if I should. You've already covered an astonishing mouthful in regards to that film and I don't know what more I could possibly add!

I particularly love how you equate Spielberg's stature in Hollywood with H.G. Wells' stature in colonist England... that does put them at an advantage, doesn't it? (maybe this also applies to O. Welles' place of power in RKO before his broadcast?). That War of the Worlds is an "avante-garde blockbuster", as you put it, is largely the reason why I think it's vastly superior to the George Pal/Byron Haskin film, which, honestly, I don't like very much (all those flying saucers and those red aliens with computer eyes and whatnot; I just didn't like it). But I like how Spielberg gives Gene Barry and Ann Robinson that cameo at the end.

Also, your defense of the ending--that Spielberg's movies are all survivor stories--is the best defense of that ending I've read to date. If I still have problems with the ending it's because I don't understand why Robbie ultimately goes to his mother's. It's not so much that he logically should be dead as much as it is that I don't understand why he ended up there, of all places. The whole movie he's raving about joining the army and fighting those sonsofbitches. Wouldn't he have done that before chickening out and running home? I don't know.

I'm planning a piece of my own on Munich and am looking forward to rewatching it. But one thing I'm not sure about is whether the film is as heavily pacifist as you've described it here. I'm sure Tony Kushner feels that way about the script, but I think Spielberg feels a bit differently. In his interviews with Roger Ebert, Spielberg said that he "agrees" with Golda Meir's decision: his argument is that Israel had to hit back at Black September or else they would be seen as weak; because, as he points out, the Munich Massacre was yet another instance of Jews being slaughtered in Germany, and it was time for the Jews to send a strong message to their enemies.

I'm not saying Spielberg is Zionist; he and Kushner both agree that there's something fundamentally wrong with full-fledged vigilantism and counterterrorism. I just wonder if their perceptions of justified violence differ slightly. Certainly George Jonas, who wrote the book that inspired the movie (and, of course, hated the movie), is far more right-wing than either of them!

Ryan Kelly said...

Thanks so much Rod! Means a lot.

Ryan Kelly said...

Adam, many thanks. I said a mouthful because I've had a lot about those films for a long time, and this was certainly as good an excuse as any.

I think there's little doubt that Spielberg's film is superior to the Pal film, which is relatively standard alien invasion boilerplate that is really only noteworthy from a technical standpoint. Spielberg's film is an intensely personal work of art and a singular vision.

No doubt the ending is hard to swallow from a logical standpoint, but I think it works emotionally and the film is such a powerful experience for me that its flaws, which I won't deny exist, don't really bother me. Plus, considering the book ends with an unexpected reunion between two people who presumed the other to be dead, it works if you think of it as Spielberg filtering Wells' text through his personal obsessions. It's awkward, but it works.

As for Munich, Spielberg referred to it as his "prayer for peace", and that remark is really what has colored my perceptions of it. That being said it's hard to say Meir did the "wrong" thing, and I think one of the great things about the film is how fair it is to her decision, even though ultimately the film has an anti-violence stance. She did what she had to, what she thought was right. But you may be right that it may be better to view Munich as a dialogue about the morality of murder, but I think ultimately it comes to the conclusion that killing is wrong.

Jake said...

Damn it, Ryan, I still have to review these for my own retrospective and now I might as well say, "Eh, fuck it, just go here." Magnificent pieces on both films, and I especially hate you for the brilliant observation of "War of the Worlds forces you to relive September 11th. Munich, on the other hand, forces you to think about it."

Ryan Kelly said...

Thank you Jake, though I'm sure you'll find 1341820384530853 things to say about both films that I couldn't muster up.

Hokahey said...

I have great admiration for the H.G. Wells novel and I have great admiration for Spielberg's War of the Worlds. I like your comments here, Ryan. There are definitely a number 9/11 allusions in this film.

In addition, while Spielberg keeps the focus on Ray and his kids, especially on Ray's exhaustive efforts to protect his daughter from a horrible end, Spielberg treats us to a panoramic view of this invasion and its effect on the multitude. (I love the long shots of the tripod zapping crowds fleeing across the hillside like ants.)

I think Spielberg has a talent for dark sci-fi. I admire MInority Report, and War of the Worlds is my favorite Spielberg film. What a brilliant moment when Ray (Cruise) is in the cellar looking through the window, listening to the chugging of the tripods, and he turns from horrible sights with a look of consummate fear on his face!

In order to achieve his true masterpiece, Spielberg needs to turn away from silliness like Tintin and attempts at Oscar gold with Lincoln, and he needs to create a grim sci-fi classic that will knock our socks off.

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Ryan Kelly said...

Hokahey, while we seem to be in full agreement on War of the Worlds, I must respectfully disagree with your assertion that Spielberg should stick with dark sci-fi films - while A.I., Minority Report and certainly rank amongst his best, to my eyes the great thing about Spielberg is how versatile a film maker he is. I love Munich as much (and probably even more, honestly) as I love War of the Worlds, and on the surface you could say that was an "attempt at Oscar Gold". But how adept he is at so many different styles is part of what makes Spielberg incredible, and I personally can't wait for Tintin - which is perfect material for him, really - and Lincoln, whenever he makes that.

Ryan Kelly said...

Ilias, I love that you call War of the Worlds "disturbingly underrated" - I may have been amongst those underrating the film the first time around, but I would hope my vociferous defenses of the film in the following years has made up for that. And I love your piece on Munich, you engage with the substance of the picture beautifully.

And for the love of Christ call me Ryan.

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Marilyn said...

Superb work, Ryan. I was a fan of WOTW. Haven't seen Munich except for the devastating scene of the execution of the woman, but I got the ambivalence even from that scene.

Ryan Kelly said...

Yeah, that scene is quite powerful, and within the narrative of the film it represents the point where you can't even justify their actions anymore. And it's interesting imagery because it's such a male centric film, with a very strong (I feel) homo-erotic undercurrent.

EricHenderson said...

We had a long discussion over at Slant Magazine, back when WOTW was released, very similar to your writings. It is an artfully shot film, but I think the 9/11 allusions ultimately fall short. The film doesn't examine 9/11 fears but capitalises on and panders to them.

Ryan Kelly said...

I remember reading Kipp's review when the movie came out, but didn't realize that a debate took place in the comments. I'll be sure to head on over and read that after I finish typing this.

Your observation really fascinates me, and I'm glad you've voiced it. I don't agree that it capitalizes on fear, because to me that would imply that it took place in an emotional frame of reference outside of the attacks, which I don't think it does. I think it's a channeling of the imagery from the day, not a reaction to it. And I think it expresses fears about 9/11 more than panders to them - but let's say he is pandering to fears, they are primal, survival fears, not nationalistic ones, so I don't even see the problem there.

Thanks for reading, Eric. Nice to have you here. Been reading you for a long time.

S. Porath said...

Terrific piece, though the conclusions you draw in the penultimate sentence struck me as a simplistic -if not irresponsible- way of interpreting events, both in the film and in reality. I don't think it's true in reality, and I certainly don't think that it is in any way the conclusion drawn in the film. If, as you say, the film expresses the shedding of national ties for the sake of global ones, doesn't limiting the film's conclusion to a specific national question allow the rest of the world to shirk away from the matter? The rest of the piece belies the narrow-reading of that penultimate sentence.

Ryan Kelly said...

I would appreciate if you could elaborate on how that statement is irresponsible - that's really a hell of a thing to say, and you don't really support your argument. Surely no more "irresponsible" than the final shot of the film itself.

I'd also like to ask you, then, what you think the point of that last shot is. I've honestly never looked at it any other way, and would love to hear your interpretation.

If, as you say, the film expresses the shedding of national ties for the sake of global ones, doesn't limiting the film's conclusion to a specific national question allow the rest of the world to shirk away from the matter?

Not really, no, because 9/11 - while being something that "happened" to us, is a global event, one that has shaped the foreign policy of many nations that aren't the United States. Also, as I said in the opening, if the point of the film is that these slaughterings aren't things that happen to countries so much as they are things that affect humanity entire, there's no reason to interpret 9/11 in the context of the film - and I think that last show is clearly an allusion to it, because really, why else include the World Trade Center - as specifically American.

S. Porath said...

"...acknowledges that 9/11 happened because of our alliance with Israel and only because of our alliance with Israel"

That is the phrase that bothered me. With one fell swoop, you are channeling all of a global issue into the small frame of Israel. That does not strike me as being conducive with what Spielberg is presenting at all. I don't think him or Kushner are being very specific with this film (in fact, the weakest parts of the film are the specific arguments on specific issues of the conflict). I think the film is a rather general, somewhat confused 'Prayer for Peace' (the confusion comes from the two wildly different sensibilities, to my ears. Both men are being very earnest, but I feel a lot of dissonance in the exchanging of ideas).

I'd also like to ask you, then, what you think the point of that last shot is. I've honestly never looked at it any other way, and would love to hear your interpretation.

Oh, I see about 3 different things every time, and all at once. Mainly though, in direct contrast to what you implied- it is a reminder to all those who would think that this specific conflict (the Israeli-Palestinian one) is in some way unique and all-encompassing, that that is not the case. This is not the problem or the responsibility of Them in the middle east- this is everyone's cross to bare. We are all culpable, we are all affected, we all must have our own moral reckoning. You think it's so easy to pick a side after watching this film? Look to your own backyard. How did you feel, and what were/are you prepared to do about it? Perhaps you're prepared to make the compromises, and lose a man like Avner. Perhaps you'd rather give up the arbitrary identity you were born into, embrace being a citizen of earth. Either way- this is YOUR problem- don't think you're getting away with pinning it on a conflict half way around the world.

With some variation, that is the basic mood the shot evokes in me.

It was irresponsible of me to imply that you were being irresponsible...I apologize for that; I let my opinions on things outside the film inform my reaction to your interpretation of Spielberg's intent- an absurd and highly unreasonable thing to do.

Ryan Kelly said...

In my mind, you have nothing to apologize for. You're contributing to the discussion with a unique point of view, which I always appreciate, and if you were a tad harsh... well, let's just say I can take it. But apology accepted, nevertheless.

And as for that specific statement, you may be right that I summed it up a tad too neatly, and that may have been dunderhead-ish of me. But what can I say? The notion that 9/11 happened because a few fanatics didn't like the U.S. of A. and our way of life is one I find quite aggravating - in the years following the attacks, even when Munich was released in 2005, that was the narrative. And there were political motivations for the attacks, though you're right that it is a global issue that happened for a lot of reasons, and if I oversimplified the issue, both as it exists in real life and as it is presented in Spielberg's film, that's certainly a mistake on my part.

Your reading of the ending is really interesting, and proof that the use of the iconography of the World Trade Center can engange many different levels of intellectual/emotional response. Thank you for sharing. I especially love the thought that this is something you can't hide from, as Avner tries to free himself from the bloodshed, but it literally comes to find him. Fascinating.

Adam Zanzie said...

S. Porath, if you're still here, I must say that I believe Ryan's interpretation to be correct. Part of the reason why Osama bin Laden launched the attacks on the World Trade Center was because of America's unwavering support for Israel, and that's what Spielberg's final shot (and Kushner's script) are directly warning against. Further American Zionism just inspires more 9/11s.

Stephen said...

Ryan,

This is a very good essay indeed. I like War of the Worlds a lot and, in the context of the recent terrorist attacks, I think it does a lot better at talking about them without talking about them ( a film isn't an essay but its own thing after all).

Most importantly, of course, it's thrilling.

Munich could have been the same but it too often revealed itself as being a commentary on life rather than (an approximation) of life itself. You could feel the strain to offer fairness and to see all perspectives, an approach which begins to seem like moral cowardice/whitewash. It's too obvious that points are being made rather than a story told.

Still, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this. I don't know if you know but I wrote a piece on two films that deal, in some ways, with the aftermath of the attacks here:

http://checkingonmysausages.blogspot.com/2010/10/wounded-america-bad-lieutenant-and.html#comments

Happy New Year, Ryan.

Ryan Kelly said...

First things first: happy new year, my friend.

And I love what you say about how War of the Worlds talks about the attacks without talking about them. That basically sums up the point I was making to Eric earlier, that I feel it really captures the emotional impact of the attacks, without directly alluding to them (the closest the film comes is when, early on, Dakota Fanning asks "Is this the terrorists?" - which I think is there for realistic reasons, more than any).

I guess we're going to have to disagree on Munich. As I indicated, I honestly have trouble separating these two films in my mind. Maybe that's just my perceptions of it, but so be it.

I have heard the claims that the film is a cop out from many people, and I frankly don't see it that way. I don't think there's anything wrong with giving every point of view the floor, so to speak, because I think Kushner and Spielberg ultimately do take a firm stance, and the most radical one of all. I don't see it as moral relativism, I see it as a rumination on violence that is meant to illustrate that violence is horrible and ugly.

Stephen said...

Ryan,

I just remembered that MovieMan (thedancingimage) will be doing a series of pieces in the future on films addressing (directly or sideways) the attacks on September the 11th and the aftermath. I'm not quite sure when.

Thanks for the New Year's wishes.

Emma said...

I like the Munich very much and it was really a nice movie. I also find your article very interesting to read. I agree with your view points about Speilberg. Thanks for sharing this article.
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