Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Munich: Keep Spielberg away from politics

Growing up Spielberg was my favorite director. Every year waited anxiously his film, expecting to be enchanted by his amazingly executed fairytales. E.T., Indiana Jones, Close Encounters of the third type was the bed time stories of a generation and the fun time of the adults. Spielberg was always a master –technician with flair on the fantastic.

In the recent years, however, Spielberg, unfortunately –at least on my opinion- decided to grow up and do adult films with political messages. His “serious” career kicked off with Schindler's List, moved on to Amistad and Saving Private Ryan, ending to Munich. All these films were perfectly executed showing mastery in the art of directing and an excellent following of the golden rules of Hollywood mainstream films. Adventure, romance, suspense, tension and quick rhythm mixed up together in order to create films that easily and pleasantly watched. After though the two hours of enjoyment, what else do they have to offer? Their subjects are highly political, and supposedly have an important humanitarian message for the spectators. In Munich’s case the “deep” message is that violence brings more violence. The message is well known, politically correct and is repeated over and over through the film. Art should have a deeper meaning. In Spielberg films though, the deeper meaning is there on the surface, repeated often enough and obvious enough so that even the densest spectator can not miss it. And then it is always over dramatized and over simplified so that no arguments against could be made. Spielberg has no ability to see all the shades of gray that exist between the black and white opposites in political situations. His characters are always positive clean cut heroes. The assassins are presented as people with families, ethic. Every time they have to commit a murder they try to make sure that no innocents are killed. They suffer for every bullet they throw and wonder if their executions have helped to make the world a better place. The over dramatization of the murder of the Munich athletes creates a counter effect eventually. All have recognized that the athletes were innocents and there was no justification for their deaths. The way, though, Spielberg uses the scenes of their assassination and his effort to present them as martyrs, transforms the film to propaganda and provides a sided view of the whole political situation. In this film the isolated incident is presented without referring at all to the facts that led to this terrorist act. In this light we tend to forget that these nations have long since been in war and bloodshed.

I can still admire Spielberg for his exquisite mastery on the technical side of directing. As an auteur however, he has not the necessary qualifications. He is not intellectual enough to handle delicate issues of politics. My advice to him would be to abandon his aspirations for great heavy adult films and return to his fairy tales for children. His simplistic view of life fits perfectly children’s entertainment. Besides entertaining children and capturing their imagination is not a lesser nor a smaller goal for the art of cinema.

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