Background to the Movie

Steven Spielberg has said, that the Munich is about vengeance, regret and dilemmas one faces when making hard personal decisions, while visualising empathy and human motivation behind ones actions. He is not trying to label who is the victim and/or criminal in this world. Hes just telling the story of Munich massacre. Also he has repeated many times over "it is not a documentary!", although based on facts and real people.

The second underlying theme found in movie is response. Specifically counter violence as act of defence. Also Spielberg has said "this movie is not an argument for non-response nor an attempt to justify killings", rather highlight dilemmas of any response, difficult decisions that rise with it and unintended results.

Now to put this in the context of movie, I understand Spielberg's point of view, the way that this story is told and how each character is portrayed. We can see the Israeli athletes and Palestinian captures as introduction to topic. The main story is about the operation Wrath of God, where group of Mossad members aim is to hunt and kill 1972 Munich massacre organizers - mainly Black September lead figures. The way the movie pictures and tells the story fits in with what Spielberg claims it to be. It raises more questions than answers. If the matter is put into larger scale of Palestinian-Israeli conflict, then it is not easy to determine who is the victim here - the movie gives no judgements here.

I do understand a lot of facts in this movie are not correct, leaved out or changed in large extent. I think Spielberg wants to tell the story, based on known facts, with the themes he has set for himself (vengeance, empathy, regret, human motivation, response). Yet the main plot is based on a book, which offers, although conflicting, relatively true picture what happened. I do not want to address these points, because such articles can be found on internet in multitude (what was correct or wrong in the movie).

What I am asking

What I do not understand, is why Spielberg used constantly character Louis (Frenchman informant) to give info of Black September leader locations? While it is addressed in the book and other materials that many sources, as well western intelligent agencies were used. A lot of effort and screen time is used to portray and introduce Louis (and his Father). I do not see why his character (fictional) were important to topic, especially when the movie wants to be based on facts and true on a story. All other main characters are based on real people (although the team was much larger and changing - the key figures were portrayed). No Louis nor his Father-Papa (French Informants) resemble any fact or character known. There are enough information in book and other sources, that offer how the intelligence were really gathered. Neither does one extra character (Louis) help to shorten the complex and long story, rather add time to movie by introducing them. Why introduce 2 fictional characters, while this could have been solved otherwise and instead portray few real figures related to story. I have not found up to this point any argument, statement why such distortion in the story was made, nor any reason why was it relevant.


  1. (Spielberg's interview)
  2. http://historynewsnetwork.org/article/21321
  3. http://www.boxofficeprophets.com/column/index.cfm?columnID=14803&cmin=10&columnpage=7
  4. http://keiichisreelopinions.blogspot.com.ee/2006/01/munich.html
  5. https://www.theguardian.com/media/2006/jan/26/bbc.israel

1 Answer 1


I have watched this film several times, as I am a film student. The same question came into my mind - what is the significance of these Frenchmen in the movie? After watching this scene over and over, I think I understood the importance.

You see, Papa is the man who Avner aspires to be. He has a big family and loves cooking, two of the things that Avner admires and loves a lot. It's a happy, sort dreamy scene right in the middle of the movie at 1:20:00. As you mentioned the human emotions above, it's empathy, love and compassion.

Avner's childhood was not that great; his father used to be in the Army, posted somewhere far away from his wife and kid, and he leaned how to cook kibbutz. Besides that, due to this operation, he is not able give much attention to his daughter and wife. He despises his mother for not being an ideal wife or mom.

In a scene when he is about to meet Louis, he is standing outside a kitchen shop staring at the furniture. So subconciously, his aspirations and essence is something else, and not killing Palestinian officials for the love of his country. Papa invites him to cook, looks at his hands, and talks about how big they are for a good cook just like himself. He says, "Well we are tragic men. Butcher's hands, gentle souls.".

That's exactly who Avner is; he is on a killing spree, but deep down he is someone else. This reflects in his decisions and actions later in the film, like facing fear, having to sleep in his closet and all that. Even though they are fictional characters, they are sort of important for the dramatic journey of Avner's life.

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