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Munich 
Written by: on May 10th, 2006

Theatrical Release Date: December 23, 2005 (USA & Canada)
Director:
Steven Spielberg
Writers:
Tony Kushner, Eric Roth
Cast:
Eric Bana, Daniel Craig, Ciaran Hinds, Mathieu Kassovitz, Hanns Zischler, Geoffrey Rush 

DVD released: May 9th, 2006
Approximate Running Time:
144 minutes
Aspect Ratio:
2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Rating:
R
Sound:
English & French Dolby Digital 5.1
DVD Release:
Universal
Region Coding:
Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price:
$19.95

“This film is an attempt to look at policies that Israel shares with the rest of the world and why a country feels that its best defense against a certain kind of violence is counter-violence.”Steven Spielberg, Introduction

Munich opens with the actual terrorist events of the 1972 Summer Olympics in which 11 Olympic Israeli athletes were killed by a notorious Palestinian terrorist group known as Black September.  In retaliation, the Israeli Defense Committee headed by Prime Minister Golda Meir sets up a secret organization to exact justice those despicable terrorist actions.  This is where poet license begins, a script built around the fictional book “Vengeance” by George Jonas.  Eye for an eye justice, 11 key Palestines are the chosen targets.

Avner (Eric Bana) leads the group while the others have their own specialties: Carl (Ciaran Hinds), Steve (Daniel Craig), Hans (Hanns Zischler), and Robert (Mathieu Kassovitz).  Searching for the eleven names, Avner’s informant Louis (Mathieu Amalric) becomes increasingly suspect as the degree of danger rises.  With no real solution or headway made to end this conflict, Avner must face the outcome of his actions.  Munich is a suspense-action-drama that pases evenly, leaving you to question: “What happens next?”

For film buffs who feel director Steven Spielberg delivers only over-the-top emotional gimmickry in his films will soon discover that Munich has a harder edge than even Schindler’s List.  One of the most powerful transitions in the film is when gunfire pours through a captive onto a wall thats riddled with blood holes and blood. It then fades into an evening sky horizon on a plane flight.  Emotional strifes that erupt between people are primarily over their beloved homes and homeland.  Avner at one point is so scared of retaliation that he dismantles his home for a nonexistent bomb and eventually decides to sleep in the closet for safety.  Avner’s own country completely alienates and abandons him offering no thanks for his selfless deeds.  This is possibly Spielberg’s most powerful film, opening up to the fears and desires that Spielberg never realized on celluloid before.

The films costume design and film look transforms viewers back to that period.  Munich doesn’t have the high gloss found in most of today’s Hollywood films and Munich doesn’t captolize on highly recognizable actors and actresses.  Instead, Munich delivers an engaging story at every turn casting roles that fit the film.  For example, Lynn Cohen’s role of Golda Meir, bears the striking likeness on the only female Prime Minister of Israel as well as depicting the power of her words.  Only moments before the rolling of the ending credits do I ever suspect that the music was conducted by John Williams.  Unlike other works by John Williams, his music is not overpowering yet its pivotal musical thrusts adds to the ambiance of the film.

The DVD:

This dual layered disc has little in the way of features but for a film that’s over 2 and a half hours long, that’s a well-received blessing.  First, I’d like to congratulate Universal for not including any trailers with this classic release.  The video had no apparent glitches or compression issues.  The laser switch was apparent on my review unit, but not removing any enjoyment from the film.

Oddly, when you play the film for the first time, it gives you the choice of watching the movie with the introduction with Steven Spielberg or without instead of having a bonus feature section on the disc.  The Introduction runs about four minutes although has key scenes which might ruin the shock for first time viewers.

Audio was crisp and clear.  Both English and French were realized in 5.1 Surround Sound with the exception to a third track.  This third track is called a DVS (Descriptive Video Service) English Stereo track.  A female voice narrates the film for those with vision impairment.  At no point does one mistake the narrating voice with an actresses voice.  Although the narrating voice is bolder than the rest of the film, it rarely talks over the movies audio.

Munich at key points in the film have burned-in white with black bordered subtitles.  These subtitles are only used if the nature of the foreign talk cannot be implied.  Somewhat small yet printed clearly and they do not obstruct neither the film print or the DVD’s subtitles.  Munich offers other language options such as Spanish and French.  Also, the English subtitle track is in SDH which stands for Subtitled for the Deaf and Hard of hearing.  The subtitles crowd to one side of the screen or another if an actor is talking from the left or right.  Also, other sounds off-screen are put into italics.

Unfortunately, I was unable to review the Limited edition of Munich which offers an additional disc more special features. Including the following extras:

• Memories of the Event
• Portrait of the Era
• The On-Set Experience
• The International Cast
• Editing, Sound and Music
• The Mission, The Team
 
Spielberg films in the past have offered less than what was expected.   Munich on the other hand has all the markings of a classic without the gloss and glitter that his other films are covered with.  Munich raises tough questions about terrorists and governmental influences, the two of which are still very relevant issues for any nation.  Recommended.

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