Tuesday, May 09, 2006

A History of Munich

Ahh, my internet is back. Or should I say the internet that is not mine but that I'm borrowing is back. Anyway, I'm a little embarrassed about the rant I went on yesterday. That really should have been four or five essays, one on each topic, and a whole lot more thought out. The thing is I was at the library and only had an hour to perform all of my internet antics. I can surf all I want in half an hour, but writing well takes longer. Perhaps I'll write them up proper someday.

The Dirty Kansa bike is assembled. It is not in it's final form yet, but I have pedaled it around the parking lot at work. There are a few kinks to work out. The suspension fork that I have isn't suspending. That's what you get from a secondhand 10 year old fork. I'm going to go to a rigid fork. Second, the chainring is too small. I'm running out of gears on the high end. That's pretty rare for a spinner like me so the gearing must really be too small. I'm going to move up from a 34 to a 40-42. Third the seatpost is too short and the stem is too long. I'll probably be tweaking this thing until race day. Pictures to come when I get my hands on a camera.

Movie Reviews: A History of Violence and Munich
Without any internet to entertain me over the weekend I ended up watching three movies. Two of them seemed to complement each other really well.

A History of Violence is the story of a small town man who in the process of foiling a robbery winds up killing two men and becoming a local celebrity. His celebrity however brings more unwholesome characters to town who seem to think they have some unfinished business with the man. The man then has to fess up to some long held secrets and defend his family from those who would want to harm them. The movie boils down to a story about man who has to do wrong (kill and lie) in order to do right (help out those whom he loves). The director has done an incredible job making the audience see that the protagonist is forced to do these things while showing that these things he is doing are ultimately destructive and wrong. A well crafted side plot about the man's high school age son helps us understand what he is going through. The son, picked on by bullies, a circumstance we can relate to, stands up for himself and lashes out physically at the bullies who have done him no physical harm. We understand that what the son has done is wrong, but at the same time we can sympathize with him. This emotion is carried over to the father who is in a similar (though not identical) situation and feels that it is necessary to lash out. Through the son we can understand the helpless feelings of the father. The director has also wisely left the ending somewhat ambiguous. With all of the lies revealed and killings perpetrated no family could go on as if nothing had happened. Many filmmakers would have tried to wrap the movie up with a happy ending, but that would have felt false. In the end we understand that the family has been destroyed and will have to be built again from the ground up, if at all.

Munich is the truish story of the aftermath of the 1972 killings of Israeli athletes by Palestinian gunmen at the Munich Olympics. Israel decides that, in order to show the world that they have had enough and to exact revenge, they must hunt down and kill the planners of the massacre. In doing so however the Israelis must become terrorists much like the Palestinians they loathe. The movie fails however because it does not bring the Israelis down to the Palestinians' level, but rather tries to bring the Palestinians up to the Israelis' level. Spielberg, the director, attempts to humanize all of the characters in order to make their deaths or their acts more horrific, but instead makes everyone too likeable. No one in the movie seems capable of the rage or fanaticism necessary for the acts they are committing. After a while the audience has to wonder: "Why are all these nice people killing each other?"
In order to have been a really great movie Spielberg would have to have made all of the characters, both Israeli and Palestinian, sinister and frightening as well as understandable. That way we would believe the things that they are doing as well as seeing where they are coming from.

Both of these movies address the problems of doing wrong in the name of right and revenge, rather than being the end, begetting further violence. One film however shows us the very real hurt that can be caused by someone close and understandable while the other confuses us by trying to cleanse the evil from every soul. A history of Violence certainly doesn't have the broad reaching goals that Spielberg set for Munich, but it seems to have achieved them better. Strangely the fictional movie portrays truth better than the true life one.


Simmons said...

I liked A History of Violence. It's one of the more graphic mainstream movies I've seen in a while.

Haven't seen Munich yet, and probably won't.

Good luck with the bike issues :)

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