From Left of the Aisle, Slate Critic Calls 'Munich' The Year's Best Film

December 23rd, 2005 5:48 PM

David Edelstein, film reviewer for the Washington Post-owned online magazine Slate, thinks Steven Spielberg's Munich is "the most potent, the most vital, the best movie of the year." Some critics might laud Munich without making left-wing statements in the process. Not Edelstein, though. Here's the beginning of his piece:

Rapidly overtaking the "Cinema of Revenge" is the "Cinema of Revenge with a Guilty Conscience"—i.e., "My people got even and all I got was this dumb hair shirt."

What's the reason for this post-9/11, self-critical twist on the thriller genre's beloved scenarios of injury and retaliation? Maybe it's that the recent consequences of such thinking have been so catastrophic: that despite invading two countries (Afghanistan and Iraq), quickly overthrowing their governments, and inflicting massive casualties on their populations, the enemy's resistance has, if anything, grown more tenacious; and that our ally Israel, among the world's most reflexively vindictive nations, hasn't managed with its instantaneous reprisals to stanch the flow of blood. At this juncture, to make the movies we always have, the ones that revel in righteous brutality, would not only be socially irresponsible. It would be delusional.

And, near the end of his review, Edelstein asserts that

Munich reinforces the idea that—great Miltonian allegories notwithstanding—the notion of evil has become profoundly maladaptive. Today, saying our enemy is "evil" is like saying a preventable tragedy is "God's will": It's a way of letting ourselves off the hook for crimes committed in our name. Not incidentally, it's also a way for our enemies to let themselves off the hook.