The original author of "Vengeance",
the inspiration for Spielberg's Munich
, tells the story of his experience with Hollywood people as the film was made. Pretty interesting stuff. It turns out that "Avner", the protagonist of Vengeance,
was deeply involved with Tony Kushner and Spielberg in the making of the film. Needless to say, the book's author isn't exactly delighted with the movie.
Reviews and press comments on "Munich" accumulate. Spielberg is quoted as saying that the real enemy in the Middle East is intransigence. He conceives of "Munich" as a prayer for peace. His screenwriter Tony Kushner says they do not wish to demonize either side.
Such remarks illustrate why, in an era of moral chaos, Hollywood is unlikely to restore clarity. With due respect to pop culture and its undisputed master, one doesn't reach the moral high ground by being neutral between good and evil. Spielberg is a fabulous entertainer, a magician of a director, a very astute businessman -- maybe, just maybe, it's too much to ask that he should be a significant moral philosopher as well. He brings to the screen an adolescent's fresh eye: that's his strength. He also brings an adolescent's naïve confusion: that's his weakness. Off-screen, his weakness takes over as he meanders in some peculiar La-La Landesque fantasy: he plans to distribute 250 video cameras to Palestinian and Israeli children, 125 to each group, so they can record their ordinary lives, exchange tapes, and foster dialogue. (Sure, says my wife, and some Palestinian kids will use Spielberg's cameras to record their statements as suicide bombers.) There's nothing like a touch of film director's megalomania mixed with "progressive" delusions.
A few leftist reviewers flavour their remarks with a soupcon of anti-Semitism. They hint that Jews object to "Munich" because they're racist, and can't stand that Spielberg-Kushner view Palestinians as human beings. Writing for Bloomberg, Margaret Carlson says Spielberg treats the Palestinians as people, and that's enough to turn off a large segment of frequent moviegoers (read Jews). But treating Palestinians as people doesn't turn off a large segment of the Jewish population, as Carlson implies; what might turn them off is treating terrorists as people. Not demonizing human beings is dandy, but in their effort not to demonize humans, Spielberg and Kushner end up humanizing demons.