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Saturday, April 15, 2006

A writer for a magazine called to ask what I thought of the controversy between George Jonas, who wrote Vengeance, and Spielberg, who directed Munich. I gather the film suggests that the Israeli assassins began to feel that killing terrorists was taking a toll on them emotionally and morally; the book does not.

I said that I don't think artists owe a debt to their sources. If Spielberg wants to use Jonas's book to tell a story he wants to tell, even if it's not Jonas's story, he's entitled to. But I think artists do owe a debt to the essential truth. Which was, in this case, that the Israeli assassins were not so much seeking vengeance as trying to put some very nasty murderers out of business by killing them. If the Spielberg movie makes their motive out to be primarily vengeance, then that works artistically but is a minor slander on Israel. Striking back at murderers for the sake of vengeance is acceptable to many people, but few people would argue with self-defense.


Wasnt there some remark that the days following the Olympic killings, there were raids on the Palestinian camps and I think the number 200 dead were mentioned?
I guess that would have been the vengence part.

By Blogger Chai, at 9:50 AM  

Huh, you'll have to give me more to go on.

Offhand, I'd say that the Palestinian habit of lobbing rockets and mortar shells at Israeli villages from within their camps, in order to kill women and children, might have justified the Israel Defense Force going looking for the attempted murderers, but I'm not sure what incident you're referring to.

Anyway, the point I was trying to make was more about whether adaptations have to follow the original book or not, and not so much about the nightmare of the endless Israeli/Palestinian war. Though that is the danger of making a movie about that war: you can't possibly cover all the truths and justifications of either side in two hours.

By Blogger Alex Epstein, at 10:57 AM  

Was just referring to dialogue in movie... but was off topic.
Anyway, regd following the book when doing adaptations, it'd be more often than not that the book is just a framework. I cannot recall one where the film was completely faithful. Princess Bride was close, but the end was still left out. But the author there did the creenplay.
The Firm was pretty off track.

By Blogger Chai, at 7:29 PM  

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