Munich's "development hell"

George Jonas, the author of the book Vengeance, on which Steve Spielberg's Munich is based, is among many others notably unhappy with the film, which is proving to be a rare box office dud for Hollywood's richest director.

Jonas writes an amusing and sobering account of the 'development hell" the movie went through, well worth reading. Two highlights:

... I try to formulate the difference between the book and the movie precisely. A mirror image? A coat worn inside out? Spielberg's "Munich" follows the letter of my book closely enough. The spirit is almost the opposite. Vengeance holds there is a difference between terrorism and counterterrorism; "Munich" suggests there isn't. The book has no trouble telling an act of war from a war crime; the film finds it difficult. Spielberg's movie worries about the moral trap of resisting terror; my book worries about the moral trap of not resisting it.

and

...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 na´ve confusion: that's his weakness.

Hat tip: Rachel Neuwirth

Thomas Lifson  1 15 06

George Jonas, the author of the book Vengeance, on which Steve Spielberg's Munich is based, is among many others notably unhappy with the film, which is proving to be a rare box office dud for Hollywood's richest director.

Jonas writes an amusing and sobering account of the 'development hell" the movie went through, well worth reading. Two highlights:

... I try to formulate the difference between the book and the movie precisely. A mirror image? A coat worn inside out? Spielberg's "Munich" follows the letter of my book closely enough. The spirit is almost the opposite. Vengeance holds there is a difference between terrorism and counterterrorism; "Munich" suggests there isn't. The book has no trouble telling an act of war from a war crime; the film finds it difficult. Spielberg's movie worries about the moral trap of resisting terror; my book worries about the moral trap of not resisting it.

and

...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 na´ve confusion: that's his weakness.

Hat tip: Rachel Neuwirth

Thomas Lifson  1 15 06