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Spielberg and Munich:

I haven't seen the movie yet, but several reviews I've seen have accused Spielberg of using the movie to score political points against the Bush Administration make an ideological point about his distaste for the current American government strategy in the War on Terror. This interview should remove any doubt that these reviewers are right.

Spielberg: The film has already sparked off discussion in the USA about the Middle East and about the methods used today in the "war on terrorism" declared by George W. Bush ...

SPIEGEL: ... in which he repeatedly emphasizes that the enemy is evil incarnate and the enemies are not human beings. The effect of this dehumanization of terrorists ...

Spielberg: ... is that you also no longer have to treat them as humans.

Spielberg claims to be sensitive to the families of the victims of the Munich massacre, but I hardly think using their story as an allegory to promote a political agenda score political points against the Bush Administration shows them proper respect--especially if it's true, as I've read, that the movie spends a helluva lot more time "humanizing" the terrorists than "humanizing" their victims. And by the way, can anyone come up with a single example of when Bush has said that the "enemies are not human beings?" [UPDATE: note that this is precisely what the interviewer said ["empahasizes..."]; Spielberg himself didn't say this, though he didn't disagree, either.]

Another interesting part of the interview is that contrary to some press reports, Spielberg admits in the interview that the movie is based on the (discredited) book Vengeance by George Jonas. Why does Spielberg think the book is accurate?

I met the former agent described by Jonas and known as Avner, and more than once. We spent many hours together. I trust my intuition and my common sense: the man is not lying, he is not exaggerating. Everything he says is true.

Given Spielberg's fortune, do you think he might have actually spent some resources actually investigating the book's claims, rather than relying on "intuition and common sense?" [UPDATE: Spielberg has no obligation to make an "accurate" movie, but in the interview, he is clearly claiming that the book he relied on is accurate. If he just liked the book, he should say, "I liked the book, and I don't care if it's accurate."] I teach and write about expert evidence, and I've learned that when it comes to evaluating controversial claims, nothing is more dangerous than a judge who decides to rely on intuition and common sense instead of objectively considering the empirical basis for the claims in front of him.

UPDATE: Should I have seen the movies before writing about it? Yes, if I were writing a movie review. But given that my two points were (1) an interview with Spielberg shows that the content of the movie was motivated in part by opposition to Bush Administration policies; and (2) that Spielberg claims that the movie is based on an accurate book, but his evidence of accuracy is only his own uninformed judgment, I don't really see how viewing the movie would affect either of those two points.

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