21 Hours at Munich [Import]
|Price:||CDN$ 15.98 & FREE Shipping on orders over CDN$ 25. Details|
The tragedy of the 1972 Olympic Games is examined in this riveting made-for-TV movie. When a group of terrorists led by Franco Nero kills two Israeli athletes and kidnaps nine others, Munich police chief William Holden desperately tries to figure out a way to rescue them amidst a climate of fear and confusion. With Shirley Knight, Richard Basehart. 101 min. Widescreen (Enhanced); Soundtrack: English Dolby Digital mono; Subtitles: English, French.
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
Top Customer Reviews
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The screenplay by Howard Fast (writer of the novel "Spartacus") and Edward Hume ("The Day After") is based on Serge Groussard's book "The Blood of Israel and focuses on what happened in Munich, part of what was then West Germany, that day in September when a group of Palestinian terrorists calling themselves Black September invaded the dormitory rooms of the Israeli athletes, killing two of them and taking another nine hostage. Issa (Franco Nero), the leader of the terrorists, demands the release of 250 Palestinian prisoners being held by Israel, but Prime Minister Golda Meir (Else Quecke) flatly refused to deal with the terrorists. This left it to the German government to try and rescue the hostages. Chief of Police Manfred Schreiber (William Holden) became the point man for their efforts, although Chancellor Willy Brandt (Richard Basehart) and Interior Minister Bruno Merk (Noel Willman) are involved in the fatal decisions as the lives of Jewish men are once again in the hands of the German government, this time with the whole world watching. Having Holden take the lead role certainly invests the German effort with a level of competence, but this is not a story where the best intentions come to mean anything in the end.
If you were alive in 1972 then you probably still have a vivid memory of learning from ABC's sports anchor Jim McKay that despite early reports to the contrary all of the hostages were killed. So it is given that when you watch this television movie that you know what is going to happen in the end. At the time of the actual 21 hours of hostage drama we were only getting bits and pieces of what was actually happening, so "21 Hours at Munich" puts together the details in a vivid fashion. But there is also a sense in which we watch this film trying to pick the key moments where things could have been different and all these deaths avoided. I saw "Munich" today, and the first preview was for "Flight 93," about the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania on September 11th. I saw a television movie about the flight on cable last week and I found myself doing the same thing I did with "21 Hours at Munich," trying to find a moment when if the passengers had acted the outcome might have been different (they waited until the plane was over rural country before making their move, sealing their fates while saving others, which is certainly their legacy).
A film that shows a group of men with their hands and feet tied being murdered by other men with machine guns and grenades obviously takes sides. The film limits itself to this 21-hour period without getting into the politics that came before or after it. Director William A. Graham ("Guyana Tragedy: The Story of Jim Jones") also takes sides by allow Issa to explain the goals and objectives of his group and people to the point that they become irrelevant because we can no longer get past the obvious fact that he and the other members of Black September are holding guns on hostages. Then again, knowing that all of the hostages will be dead effectively poisons the pool. But ultimately, "21 Hours at Munich" is a rather clinical record of what happened at that time and place, leaving the rhetoric and public debate to other films and other venues.
William Holden stars as the German cop in charge of the investigation and negotiations, while Franco Nero plays the chief terrorist. Unlike Steven Spielberg's Munich, this movie concentrates solely on the crime itself, beginning by showing how the terrorists easily enter the Olympic Village and are able to subdue most of the members of the Israeli team. From there, it's a cat-and-mouse game of negotiations and threats between terrorists and police.
Holden is solid, and his casting was undoubtedly a coup for a TV movie of the week (the film was made immediately before he got his last Oscar nomination for Network). He makes no pretense at speaking with a German accent which some may find disconcerting, although if you are interested in what he is saying it shouldn't matter. His character is well aware of the importance of what they do and how the world will view it, which leads to eventual bickering among the police, military, and political leaders (including Richard Basehart as Willy Brandt).
Similarly, Nero is solid and grounded. The movie wisely avoids turning him into a wide-eyed fanatic; instead, he is a professionally determined man with a dangerous political agenda. By keeping the two leads as competent, solid professionals, the movie is able to build suspense, even if the eventual resolution is well known in advance.
21 Hours at Munich is a well grounded film that does not attempt to look at the wider picture of Mideast terrorism or the overall politics of the time. Instead, it's a solid, gripping procedural that, despite the limited budget of a TV-movie, succeeds at showing how a horrible crime happened step by step from beginning to end.
This is a dramatic recreation of the events that occurred in 1972 at the XX Olympiad in Munich. It was filmed in West Germany. The hope of the Olympic contests was to show how countries could live in peace while competing in sports. [Aren’t these sports a peaceful form of combat? They entertain people of all classes and countries.] Early in the morning of September 17, 1972 intruders scale fences to enter the Israeli compound with their luggage. They have military weapons! They use keys to unlock doors. One man tries to stop them at the door. Another escapes through a window to spread the alarm of Arab terrorists. Two men see a shooting! The Israeli athletes are rounded up. One man escapes, there is shooting! The German police are warned, they take action to isolate the building. The “Black September” movement has demands to release prisoners in Israel and give them an airplane to leave the country. Or the hostages will die! A woman Olympic security guard is sent to talk to them.
The building is surrounded. German officials try to speak to them and ask for more time. The Israeli government will not make any concessions because of the example it will set. This crime is a German problem says Prime Minister Meir. Do any of the captives need a doctor? The terrorists are warned they will all be killed if they kill the hostages. “We are not afraid to die” says a terrorist. “We will be happy to oblige” says a German official. They are offered cash and a safe exit if they free the hostages. Should the Olympics be cancelled? Or suspended? The terrorists want three planes to fly them to Cairo. They will accept one plane, but it will take time to prepare for a long flight. The Germans want to know how many hostages are alive. There are nine. The Germans also counted the terrorists. They want the Egyptians to save the Israelis when the plane lands in Cairo. This is refused; its not an Egyptian problem. A helicopter will transport the Fedayeen and the hostages to the airport. Trained marksmen will await them in concealed positions.
There is an underground passage from the building to where the helicopters are waiting. The leader inspects the helicopters, then asks for a bus for transport. He admits they plan to kill the hostages! What does the world think of their actions? The Germans plan to attack when the Fedayeen and the hostages arrive at the helicopters. “The plane will never leave the ground.” There are eight Fedayeen on the bus. It arrives at the field, they enter the two helicopters. They land at the airport. The helicopter pilots are taken hostage. There are no pilots on the plane. “We’ve been tricked!” The sharpshooters start firing, not all targets are hit. They are told to surrender, but they keep shooting. The Fedayeen leader throws hand grenades into a helicopter, another man fires his machine gun into the other helicopter. The Bavarian police neutralize the remaining Fedayeen. “Help us overcome hatred.” Later the remaining Fedayeen were traded for captive Germans. They were treated as heroes when they reached Tripoli.
Since then the security at the Olympiads was increased. The world has seen more and worse massacres for political purposes. What can stop men who are willing to die to accomplish their mission? Only other armed men who can defend against these terrorists. There will never be any safe “gun free zones” anywhere in any town, now and in the future. This happened over 45 years ago, most people now alive weren’t born then. This is a history lesson, we hope it will never happen again. What could have been done to save the hostages? By preventing it in the first place.