Munich (2005)

R | 164 or 167 mins | Drama | 23 December 2005

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HISTORY

The working title for the film was Vengeance . Only the company credits, title and prologue appear before the film; all other credits are at the end. The following written prologue appears in the opening onscreen credits: “Inspired by real events.” There are numerous misspellings and inconsistencies in the cast and crew names and some character names in the onscreen credits. The closing credits state that Munich was filmed with the support of financial incentives provided by the Government of Malta, and Hungarian sponsorship was provided by the Bank of Budapest.
       The film opens with the arrival of Black September, an extremist Palestinian group, at the Olympic Village, the dormitory break-in and killing of two Israeli athletes, then proceeds to follow the course of the attack through television news reports. The actual details of the event are shown sporadically throughout the film, with the death of the nine Israeli hostages shown near the end of the film. The film’s final shot of the New York City skyline featured the World Trade Center Twin Towers, which were destroyed in the Sep 2001 terrorist attack.
       An Apr 2004 NYT article announced director Steven Spielberg’s intention to begin production on Munich in Jun 2004. Munich was the first feature film script by playwright Tony Kushner, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play Angels in America and its HBO television adaptation. Spielberg’s son Theo served as a production assistant on the film and his daughter Sasha appeared in a bit role. The Apr 2004 NYT article listed Ben Kingsley as a ... More Less

The working title for the film was Vengeance . Only the company credits, title and prologue appear before the film; all other credits are at the end. The following written prologue appears in the opening onscreen credits: “Inspired by real events.” There are numerous misspellings and inconsistencies in the cast and crew names and some character names in the onscreen credits. The closing credits state that Munich was filmed with the support of financial incentives provided by the Government of Malta, and Hungarian sponsorship was provided by the Bank of Budapest.
       The film opens with the arrival of Black September, an extremist Palestinian group, at the Olympic Village, the dormitory break-in and killing of two Israeli athletes, then proceeds to follow the course of the attack through television news reports. The actual details of the event are shown sporadically throughout the film, with the death of the nine Israeli hostages shown near the end of the film. The film’s final shot of the New York City skyline featured the World Trade Center Twin Towers, which were destroyed in the Sep 2001 terrorist attack.
       An Apr 2004 NYT article announced director Steven Spielberg’s intention to begin production on Munich in Jun 2004. Munich was the first feature film script by playwright Tony Kushner, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play Angels in America and its HBO television adaptation. Spielberg’s son Theo served as a production assistant on the film and his daughter Sasha appeared in a bit role. The Apr 2004 NYT article listed Ben Kingsley as a possible star, but he was not in the film. Some online sources add the following actors to the cast: Mosko Alkalai, Lili Bordán, Arthur Chazal, Marcus Collins, Greg D’Agostino, Fran Labbe, Arnaud Marciszewer, George Mendel, Ben O’Brien, Dov Reiser, Eva Röse, Jean Smart and Guy Zoaretz. Munich was filmed in Malta, Paris, Hungary and New York and completed principal photography in Oct 2005 for a Dec 2005 release.
       Munich had a lengthy pre-production history. According to an 18 Dec 2005 LAT feature article, in the late 1990s producer Barry Mendel purchased the rights to George Jonas' 1984 book Vengeance , which detailed the clandestine Israeli response to the murder of eleven of its athletes competing in the XX Olympiad in Munich, West Germany in Sep 1972. In 1986 the book had been produced as a highly praised, HBO cable television movie, Sword of Gideon , starring Steven Bauer and Michael York and directed by Michael Anderson. Mendel brought the property to producer Kathleen Kennedy, who commissioned three successive scripts. Janet and David Peoples wrote the initial draft and Eric Roth worked on numerous drafts, according to an 18 Dec 2005 LAT article. According to an earlier 4 Dec 2005 LAT article, Charles Randolph contributed a polish of the Roth script, before Kushner began working on it. The 18 Dec 2005 LAT piece stated that Randolph had written a complete draft of Munich . A 12 Dec 2005 Time feature article on the film does not mention the contributions of either Randolph or Roth, the latter of whom received screen credit beneath Kushner. Both Time and the 18 Dec 2005 LAT article stated that Kushner’s initial draft was over 300 pages in length.
       According to the Time article, Kennedy, a frequent production partner with Spielberg, proposed the project to the director, but Spielberg expressed uneasiness over taking on a project about the difficult and emotionally volatile politics of the Middle East. After the Sep 2001 terrorist attacks, according to the LAT piece, Spielberg shied further away from the material as potentially exploitative. He remained interested in the project, however, and after discussing the script with playwright Kushner, decided to commit to the production. Spielberg purportedly was impressed by Kushner’s input on the production, partially because of Kushner’s involvement with the editing of a book on the American view of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
       Numerous articles on Munich noted that Vengeance met with controversy from the time of its publication, with its veracity coming under question. A Jul 2005 Var article quoted a former Mossad (Israeli Intelligence Agency) agent as describing the Jonas book as “nonsense, totally baseless.” The former agent did not dispute the mission itself, but rather the portrayal of the agents and the manner in which the operations were conducted. A Jul 2005 The Times (London) article stated another criticism of the book was that the Mossad agent who was the basis for “Avner Kauffman” was actually only an El Al airlines security guard. Both Vengance and the film mention that Avner’s Mossad work included time as an airline security agent. The 18 Dec 2005 LAT article on Munich indicated that press accounts widely assumed Avner was based on Israeli security expert Yuval Aviv, whom Jonas, in a legal dispute over the book’s rights, described as a “key source” for Vengeance . Spielberg and Kushner recounted meeting the “real agent” described in the book, but refused to identify him. Spielberg’s spokesman mentioned in the LAT article that much of the controversy surrounding the book stemmed from the fact that Israel has never formally admitted that Prime Minister Golda Meir authorized assassination squads to retaliate for the Munich massacre.
       Other articles and sources noted that the main discrepancy of Jonas’ book is its evasion of the fact that the Palestinians killed by the special unit from 1972 to 1974 were low-level Black September members not directly linked to the Munich attack. The Var article quoted Spielberg as stating that Vengeance was only one source used for the script’s development. Although Spielberg showed the completed script to various political experts, several articles quoted former Mossad head Zvi Zamir (who is depicted in Munich ) and Abu Daoud, the Palestinian generally credited as one of the masterminds behind the Munich attack and a co-founder of Black September, as complaining about not being consulted during the script’s development.
       Munich details the massacre that occurred at the 1972 Munich Olympics, when eleven Israeli athletes were attacked in their dormitory apartments by members of Black September. Two Israeli athletes were initially killed in the dormitory and the other nine held hostage for nearly a day. The athletes, five members of Black September and a German policeman died at the Fürstenfeldbruck military airfield during a botched rescue attempt by German security.
       Black September has been defined as an offshoot of the Fatah (a reverse acronym for the Palestine Liberation Movement or “conquest”) movement of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, a multi-party federation dedicated to the establishment of an independent Palestinian state. Black September was formed in 1970 as a response to the violent expulsion from Jordan of Palestinian refugees by King Hussein. Although Black September was originally a small group of fedayeen (one ready to sacrifice his life for a cause) out to seek revenge on Jordan, their objectives soon focused on the Palestinian situation and the group participated in numerous international political assassinations and airplane hijackings from 1971 to 1973.
       The group’s best known operation was the attack against the Israeli athletes in Munich. Black September was disbanded in 1973 by the P.L.O. when leader Yasser Arafat declared it would restrict attacks to Israel and the territories occupied by the 1967 6-Day War. Black September’s unprecedented attack at Munich, highlighted by worldwide television coverage, has been cited by many experts as a major turning point in international terrorism.
       Portions of the opening sequences in Munich use the actual coverage by America’s ABC television network, which broadcast the Olympic Games. The film shows the iconic moment when popular ABC sportscaster Jim McKay received notification of the Israeli athletes’ deaths, and stated, “They’re all gone.” Spielberg duplicated other well-known televised moments from the 23-hour ordeal, such as that of a masked terrorist cautiously stepping out onto the balcony of one of the dormitory apartments. The voices of ABC reporters Howard Cosell (1918—1995) and Peter Jennings (1938—2005) are also heard throughout the opening sequences of Munich .
       As mentioned in the film and confirmed in various historical sources, just three days after the Munich assault, Israel retaliated with a massive military air strike against ten P.L.O. bases just inside Syria and Lebanon. Another strike took place a week later. As noted in historical sources, despite the ferocity of these attacks, many within the Israeli government felt the brutality of the Munich attack warranted a still stronger response. Prominent among those was Mossad head Zamir, who had flown to Munich during the crisis. Although Israel already had a covert anti-terrorist unit designated Caesarea, within ten days of Munich, Prime Minister Meir authorized a plan to eliminate “terror operatives” through a series of assassinations aimed at the leaders and plotters of Fatah and Black September. The plan, mentioned in many contemporary sources, was dubbed “Wrath of God,” which is not referred to by name in Munich . The head of the mission was the commander of Caesarea, Martin Harari, depicted briefly in the film as one of the important security figures at Meir’s home. According to historical documents on the Olympic attack and its aftermath released years after Vengeance , Harari personally oversaw three assassination teams that comprised “Wrath of God.” These same sources note the fact, not mentioned in Munich , that each strike had to have the prime minister’s approval and, although the strikes may have been discussed with cabinet members, the decision to proceed in each case was Meir’s alone in the first two years of the operation. Although Vengeance and Munich suggest that the retaliatory mission against those who plotted the Olympic attack ended by late 1973 or early 1974, other historical sources confirm that in reality it continued until 1992, with each succeeding Israeli prime minister signing off on approved targets.
       As mentioned in the movie, just weeks after Munich, Israel was stunned by the release of the three surviving Black September members, who were being held by German security. The men were freed as part of an agreement with a faction of the P.L.O. after the hijacking of a Lufthansa airplane (carrying only thirteen passengers). Years later, inquiries suggested that the hijacking was coordinated in advance between Palestinians and Germany, which was uncomfortable holding the Black September members and fearful of further terrorist attacks on its soil. After the release of the Palestinians, no acts of terrorism occurred in West Germany until the late 1980s. Of the three survivors, two were eventually killed by “Wrath of God” agents and one remains alive in hiding. The surviving member participated (appearing in shadow) in the 1999 Academy Award-winning documentary on the attack, One Day in September , directed by Kevin McDonald.
       Scenes in Munich suggest that Avner relays vital information to his superiors provided by French contact “Louis” about the location of three top-level Fatah officers in Beirut. Modern historical sources do not support the assumption that any Mossad agent working in the field provided such intelligence. The strike, designated operation “Spring of Youth,” is most remembered as the mission in which future Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak disguised himself as a woman to lead the attack, which is depicted in the film.
       The strikes as shown in Munich are generally accurate in their depiction. Although several men contributed to the design of the Munich attack, as stated in Munich , the head of Black September operations and a close associate of Arafat was Ali Hassan Salameh, nicknamed the “Red Prince.” Not shown in Munich was a 1973 bungled attempted assassination strike on Salameh by Israeli agents in Lillehammer, Norway which resulted in the killing of a Moroccan waiter, mistaken for Salameh. The last attempted targeting of Salameh shown in Munich , where Avner and “Steve” pursue Salameh to Spain, is completely fictitious. As noted in the film’s conclusion, Salameh was killed in Jan 1979 by a car bomb planted by Israeli agents.
       Several articles noted that Spielberg initially intended to release Munich with little to no publicity, including personal interviews. Two weeks prior to the film’s release, however, the lengthy Time magazine cover story was published, in which Spielberg described Munich as his “prayer for peace.” Immediately afterward, criticism of the film by some prominent Jewish leaders focused on Spielberg’s possible suggestion that the killings of the Israelis and the subsequent murders of the Palestinians were morally comparable. A 9 Dec 2005 NYT article quoted the Israeli consul general in Los Angeles as stating that the film’s implication that Israel’s response to the Olympic massacre had caused an escalation in terror was “pure fiction.”
       Due to the potential controversy generated by these responses, Spielberg gave a lengthy interview to LAT , which was incorporated into the paper’s 18 Dec 2005 “Calendar” feature piece. A 20 Dec 2005 DV article described the director’s attempts to screen the film for the current chief of Mossad and other agents who worked for the agency during the early 1970s. Producer Kennedy arranged a screening of the film for two widows of Israeli athletes killed in Munich. The women expressed relief that Israel’s mistaken murder in Lillehammer was not depicted and that Israel’s reputation was not dishonored. Reviews of the film were mixed, some praising its dramatic merits, and others expressing frustration with what they viewed as Spielberg’s “naïve” political message.
       Munich was selected by AFI as one of the ten Movies of the Year for 2005. The film received five Academy Award nominations, for Best Picture, Directing, Adapted Screenplay, Film Editing and Original Score. The film also received Golden Globe nominations for Spielberg for Best Director and Kushner for Best Screenplay. Spielberg was nominated by the Directors Guild for the DGA Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film for 2005. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
20 Dec 2005
p. 7, 22.
Entertainment Weekly
23 Dec 2005
pp. 38-41, 58-59.
Hollywood Reporter
10 Jul 2005.
---
Hollywood Reporter
12 Dec 2005.
---
Los Angeles Times
6 Nov 2005.
---
Los Angeles Times
30 Nov 2005
Calendar, p. 1, 8.
Los Angeles Times
4 Dec 2005
Calendar, p. 10.
Los Angeles Times
18 Dec 2005
Calendar, p. 1, 30-31.
Los Angeles Times
23 Dec 2005
Calendar, p. 1, 8.
New York Times
23 Apr 2004.
---
New York Times
9 Dec 2005.
---
New York Times
23 Dec 2005.
---
New York Times
26 Dec 2005.
---
The Times (London)
10 Jul 2005.
---
Time
12 Dec 2005.
---
Variety
25 Jul 2005
p. 5, 58.
Variety
12 Dec 2005.
---
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
A Steven Spielberg Film
A Steven Spielberg Film; An Amblin Entertainment/Kennedy/Marshall/Barry Mendel Production
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
1st asst dir
1st asst dir, Budapest unit
1st asst dir, Paris unit
Key 2d asst dir
2d asst dir, Budapest unit
2d asst dir, Paris unit
2d asst dir, New York unit
Co-2d asst dir
2d 2d asst dir
2d 2d asst dir, New York unit
Addl 2d asst dir, New York unit
3rd asst dir
3rd asst dir
3rd asst dir, Budapest unit
3rd asst dir, Malta unit
3rd asst dir, Paris unit
WRITERS
Scr
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
A cam op
B cam op/Steadicam
B cam op/Steadicam, New York unit
A cam 1st asst
B cam 1st asst
A cam 2d asst
A cam 2d asst, New York unit
B cam 2d asst
B cam 2d asst, New York unit
Loader, New York unit
Cam P.A.
Video assist
Video assist asst
Chief lighting tech
Chief lighting tech, Budapest unit
Chief lighting tech, Paris unit
Chief lighting tech, New York unit
Addl chief lighting tech
Asst chief lighting tech
Elec, Budapest unit
Elec, Budapest unit
Elec, Budapest unit
Chief rigging gaffer
Rigging gaffer, Budapest unit
Rigging gaffer, Budapest unit
Rigging gaffer, New York unit
Rigging elec best boy
Chief fixtures rigger
1st rigger
1st rigger, Malta unit
Standby rigger
Rigging elec
Rigging elec
Rigging elec
Rigging elec
Rigging elec
Rigging elec
Rigging elec, Budapest unit
Rigging elec, Budapest unit
Rigging elec, Budapest unit
Rigging elec, Budapest unit
Rigging elec, Malta unit
Rigging elec, Malta unit
Rigging elec, Malta unit
Generator op
Key grip
Key grip, Budapest unit
Key grip, Malta unit
Key grip, Paris unit
Key grip, Paris unit
Key grip, New York unit
Rigging key grip, New York unit
Best boy grip
Best boy grip, Paris unit
Best boy, Budapest unit
Best boy, Paris unit
Best boy, New York unit
Best boy, New York unit
Key rigging grip
Key rigging grip, Budapest unit
Best boy rigging grip
Rigging best boy, New York unit
Rigging grip
Rigging grip, Budapest unit
Rigging grip, Budapest unit
Rigging grip, Budapest unit
Rigging grip, Budapest unit
Rigging grip, Budapest unit
Rigging grip, Budapest unit
Rigging grip, Malta unit
Rigging grip, Malta unit
A cam dolly grip
B cam dolly grip
B cam dolly grip, New York unit
Grip, Budapest unit
Grip, Budapest unit
Grip, Budapest unit
Grip, Budapest unit
Grip, Malta unit
Grip, Malta unit
Grip, Malta unit
Grip, Malta unit
Grip, Malta unit
Remote head and crane tech
Still photog
Supv TV playback tech
TV playback asst
ARRI tech
Cameras and lenses by
Chapman cam dollies by
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Supv art dir
Standby art dir
Standby art dir
Art dir, Budapest unit
Art dir, Budapest unit
Art dir, Budapest unit
Art dir, Malta unit
Art dir, Malta unit
Art dir, Paris unit
Art dir, New York unit
Asst art dir, Budapest unit
Asst art dir, Budapest unit
Asst art dir, Budapest unit
Asst art dir, Budapest unit
Asst art dir, Budapest unit
Asst art dir, Budapest unit
Asst art dir, Malta unit
Asst art dir, Paris unit
Asst art dir, New York unit
Art dept coord, Budapest unit
Graphics des
Graphic des, Budapest unit
Scenic graphic artist, Malta unit
Sign writer
Draftsman, Budapest unit
Draftsperson, Malta unit
Draftsperson, Malta unit
Art dept asst, Budapest unit
Art dept asst, Budapest unit
Art dept asst, Budapest unit
Art dept asst, Budapest unit
Art dept asst, Budapest unit
Art dept asst, Budapest unit
Art dept asst, Malta unit
Art dept asst, Malta unit
FILM EDITORS
Assoc ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
Apprentice ed
Negative cutter
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec, New York unit
Asst set dec, Budapest unit
Asst set dec, Malta unit
Asst set dec, Paris unit
Asst set dec, New York unit
Set dresser, Budapest unit
Set dresser, Budapest unit
Prop master
Prop master, New York unit
Asst prop master, New York unit
Prop supv
Prop supv
Prop supv
Prop supv, Budapest unit
Key standby propman
Standby propman
Standby propman
Standby props, Budapest unit
Standby props, Budapest unit
Chargehand propman, Malta unit
Props buyer, Budapest unit
Props buyer, Malta unit
Standby carpenter
Standby painter
Prop storeman
Const coord
Const coord, Paris unit
Const coord, New York unit
HOD carpenter
HOD carpenter
HOD plasterer
HOD painter
HOD painter, Budapest unit
HOD painter, Malta unit
HOD rigger
Swing gang, Budapest unit
Swing gang, Budapest unit
Leadman, New York unit
COSTUMES
Cost des
Asst cost des
Asst cost des
Asst cost des, New York unit
Cost supv
Cost supv
Cost supv
Cost supv, Budapest unit
Cost supv, Malta unit
Cost supv, Paris unit
Cost supv, New York unit
Asst to cost supv, Budapest unit
Cost coord
Key set cost
Set cost, New York unit
Set cost, New York unit
Set cost, New York unit
Cost asst
Cost asst
Cost asst
Cost asst
Cost asst, Malta unit
Cost asst, Malta unit
Cost asst, Malta unit
Cost asst, Malta unit
Cost, Paris unit
Cost buyer
Chief cutter
Seamstress
Ward asst, Budapest unit
Ward asst, Budapest unit
Ward asst, Budapest unit
Ward asst, Budapest unit
Ward asst, Budapest unit
Principal armourer
Standby armourer
MUSIC
Exec in charge of mus for Universal Pictures
Mus ed
Mus scoring mixer
Mus contractor
Mus preparation
Vocal solos
Cello solo
Source record consultant
Recordist
Scoring crew
Scoring crew
Scoring crew
Scoring crew
SOUND
Sd des/Supv sd ed
Supv sd ed
Supv asst sd ed
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Addl re-rec mixer
Addl re-rec mixer
Prod sd mixer
Sd mixer, New York unit
Sd des recordist
Boom op
Boom op
Boom op, New York unit
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Asst eff ed
Apprentice ed
ADR ed
ADR ed
Asst ADR ed
ADR rec at
ADR rec at
ADR re-rec mixer
ADR re-rec mixer
ADR re-rec mixer
ADR re-rec mixer
ADR re-rec mixer
Supv dial ed
Dial ed
Asst dial ed
Foley ed
Foley artist
Foley artist
Foley artist
Foley mixer
Foley rec
Post prod facilities
Re-rec eng
Utility, New York unit
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff supv
SFX supv, Budapest unit
SFX asst supv
Spec eff tech
Spec eff tech
Spec eff tech
Spec eff tech
Spec eff tech
Spec eff tech
Spec eff tech
Spec eff tech
Spec eff tech
Spec eff tech
Spec eff tech
Spec eff tech
Spec eff tech
Spec eff tech, Budapest unit
Spec eff tech, Budapest unit
Spec eff tech, Budapest unit
Spec eff tech, Malta unit
Spec eff tech, Malta unit
Spec eff tech, Malta unit
Spec eff tech, Malta unit
Spec eff tech, Malta unit
Key spec eff, Paris unit
Spec eff coord, Paris unit
Spec eff coord, New York unit
Main title des
Subtitles & opticals
Pyrotechnic tech, Budapest unit
Visual eff supv
Visual eff prod
VFX assoc supv
Digital artist
Digital artist
Digital artist
Digital artist
Digital artist
Rotoscoping lead artist
VFX prod coord
MAKEUP
Key makeup artist
Key makeup artist, Paris unit
Key makeup artist, New York unit
1st asst makeup artist
Makeup artist
Makeup artist
Makeup artist, New York unit
Crowd makeup, Budapest unit
Crowd makeup, Budapest unit
Key hair stylist
Key hair stylist, New York unit
Hairstylist
Hairstylist
Hairstylist
Crowd hairdresser, Budapest unit
Crowd hairdresser, Budapest unit
Hairdresser, Malta unit
Key hairdresser, Paris unit
Prosthetics by
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Casting
U.S. casting consultant
Casting asst
Casting asst
Casting contact Israel
Casting contact France
Casting contact France
Casting asst France
Casting asst Italy
Casting asst Greece
Crowd casting coord, Malta unit
Asst crowd casting, Malta unit
Extras casting, Paris unit
Extras casting, New York unit
Voice casting
Voice casting
Unit prod mgr
Unit prod mgr, Budapest unit
Unit prod mgr, New York unit
Unit mgr
Prod mgr, Budapest unit
Prod mgr, Budapest unit
Prod supv, Budapest unit
Prod supv/Supv loc mgr, Budapest unit
Prod supv, Paris unit
Head of loc, Budapest unit
Loc mgr, Budapest unit
Loc mgr, Budapest unit
Loc mgr, Budapest unit
Loc mgr, Budapest unit
Loc mgr, Budapest unit
Loc mgr, Malta unit
Loc mgr, Malta unit
Loc mgr, Malta unit
Loc mgr, Paris unit
Loc mgr, New York unit
Asst loc mgr, Budapest unit
Asst loc mgr, Budapest unit
Asst loc mgr, Budapest unit
Asst loc mgr, Budapest unit
Asst loc mgr, Budapest unit
Asst loc mgr, Budapest unit
Asst loc mgr, Malta unit
Asst loc mgr, Malta unit
Asst loc mgr, Paris unit
Asst loc mgr, Paris unit
Asst loc mgr, Paris unit
Asst loc mgr, New York unit
Loc coord, Budapest unit
Loc coord, Malta unit
Loc asst, Malta unit
Loc asst, Malta unit
Loc asst, Malta unit
Loc asst, Malta unit
Loc asst, Malta unit
Assoc to Mr. Spielberg
Assoc to Ms. Kennedy
Assoc to Mr. Wilson
Asst to Mr. Spielberg
Asst to Mr. Spielberg
P.A. to Mr. Spielberg
Asst to Mr. Mendel
Asst to Mr. Mendel
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst, Budapest unit
Prod asst, Budapest unit
Prod asst, Budapest unit
Prod asst, Budapest unit
Prod asst, Budapest unit
Prod asst, Budapest unit
Prod asst, Budapest unit
Prod asst, Malta unit
Prod asst, Malta unit
Prod asst, Malta unit
Prod asst, New York unit
Prod asst, New York unit
Prod asst, New York unit
Prod asst, New York unit
Prod asst, New York unit
Set prod asst, Budapest unit
Set prod asst, Budapest unit
Set prod asst, Budapest unit
Set prod asst, Budapest unit
Set prod asst, Malta unit
Set prod asst, Malta unit
Set prod asst, Malta unit
Set prod asst, Malta unit
Set prod asst, Malta unit
Set prod asst, Malta unit
Set prod asst, Paris unit
Set prod asst, Paris unit
Set prod asst, Paris unit
Set prod asst, Paris unit
Set prod asst, Paris unit
Set prod asst, Paris unit
Set prod asst, Paris unit
Set prod asst, Paris unit
Set prod asst, Paris unit
Set prod asst, New York unit
Set prod asst, New York unit
Set prod asst, New York unit
Set prod asst, New York unit
Set prod asst, New York unit
Set prod asst, New York unit
Set prod asst, New York unit
Consultant and dial coach
Dial asst
Voice and dialect coach
Mr. Bana's dialect coach
Picture vehicle supv
Action vehicle coord
Asst action vehicle coord, Budapest unit
Asst action vehicle coord, Malta unit
Picture car supv
Picture car mechanic
Picture car mechanic
Post prod asst
Prod buyer
Buyer, Budapest unit
Researcher
Researcher
Researcher
Prod coord
Prod coord, Budapest unit
Prod coord, Malta unit
Prod coord, Paris unit
Prod coord, New York unit
Asst prod coord
Asst prod coord
Asst prod coord, Budapest unit
Asst prod coord, Budapest unit
Asst prod coord, Paris unit
Asst prod coord, New York unit
Unit pub
Pub assoc
Financial controller
Prod accountant, Budapest unit
Prod accountant, Malta unit
Prod accountant, New York unit
Chief prod accountant, Paris unit
Prod accountant, Paris unit
1st asst accountant
1st asst accountant, Budapest unit
1st asst accountant, Malta unit
1st asst accountant, New York unit
2d asst accountant
2d asst accountant
2d asst accountant
2d asst accountant, Budapest unit
Asst accountant, Budapest unit
Asst accountant, Budapest unit
Asst prod accountant, Paris unit
Asst prod accountant, Paris unit
Accounting services, Budapest unit
Post prod accountant
Accounts asst
Payroll accountant, Malta unit
Accounting clerk, Malta unit
Transportation coord
Transportation coord, Budapest unit
Transportation coord, Paris unit
Transportation capt, Budapest unit
Transportation capt, Paris unit
Transportation capt, New York unit
Asst transport coord
Asst transportation coord, Budapest unit
Asst transportation capt, Budapest unit
Prod services in Hungary
Prod services in France provided by
Prod facilities
Prod security
Post prod exec
Post prod supv
Post prod coord
Prod secy, Malta unit
Prod secy, New York unit
Catering, Malta unit
DGA trainee, New York unit
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Asst stunt coord
Asst stunt coord/Avner double
Hungarian stunt supv, Budapest unit
Stunt rigger
Tactical adv
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Eric Bana's stand-in
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the book Vengeance by George Jonas (New York, 1984).
AUTHOR
SONGS
"Ain't No Sunshine," written & performed by Bill Withers, courtesy of Columbia Records, by arrangement with Sony BMG Music Entertainment
"My Girl," written by Ronald White & Smokey Robinson, performed by The Temptations, courtesy of Motown Records, under license from Universal Music Enterprises
"Clowns," from Twenty-Four Easy Piano Pieces For Children, written by Dmitri Kabalevsky
+
SONGS
"Ain't No Sunshine," written & performed by Bill Withers, courtesy of Columbia Records, by arrangement with Sony BMG Music Entertainment
"My Girl," written by Ronald White & Smokey Robinson, performed by The Temptations, courtesy of Motown Records, under license from Universal Music Enterprises
"Clowns," from Twenty-Four Easy Piano Pieces For Children, written by Dmitri Kabalevsky
"Papa Was a Rollin' Stone," written by Barrett Strong and Norman Whitfield
"Ela-Ela," written by Bambos Zacharias and Savvas Paphiti, performed by Romiosini, courtesy of Arc Music Productions Int., Ltd. by arrangement with Source/Q
"Palamakia," written by Giorgos Mitsakis, performed by Talking To Charos, courtesy of Arc Music Productions Int., Ltd., by arrangement with Source/Q
"Black Magic Woman," written by Peter Alan Green, Arabic translation by Hiam Abbass
"El Tahmilla," arranged by Ahmed El Shair, performed by El Mastaba Centre, courtesy of Extreme Production Music USA
"Des millions d'amoureux," written by F. Barcellini & P. Bilat, performed by Georgette Lemaire, courtesy of Mercury Records France, a division of Universal Music S.A., under license from Universal Music Enterprises
"To Traghoudi Tou Teke," arranged & performed by Manolis Papos, courtesy of Extreme Production Music USA
"Rahji La Bladi," arranged & performed by Rajab Chamlakh, courtesy of Extreme Production Music USA
"Never on Sunday," written by Manos Hadjidakis, performed by Melina Mercouri, courtesy of MGM Music Inc., under license from Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc.
"Let's Stay Together," written by Willie Mitchell, Al Green & Al Jackson, Jr., performed by Al Green, courtesy of Hi Records, under license from EMI Film & Television Music
"Neo Koritsi," arranged & performed by Manolis Papos, courtesy of Extreme Production Music USA
"Prelude to a Kiss," written by Edward "Duke" Ellington, Irving Gordon & Irving Mills, performed by Stan Getz, courtesy of Stan Getz Associates, LLC
“But Beautiful,” written by Johnny Burke & Jimmy Van Heusen, performed by Stan Getz, courtesy of The Verve Music Group, under license from Universe Music Enterprises.
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DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Vengeance
Release Date:
23 December 2005
Production Date:
late June--early October 2005 in Malta, Hungary, France and New York
Copyright Claimants:
Universal City Studios, LLLP Dreamworks LLC
Copyright Dates:
22 December 2005 22 December 2006
Copyright Numbers:
PA0001267506 PA0001267506
Physical Properties:
Sound
dts; SDDS Sony Dynamic Digital Sound; Dolby Digital in selected theatres
Color
Fuji; Kodak Motion Picture Film
Lenses/Prints
processing by Technicolor and Laboratoire Éclair
Duration(in mins):
164 or 167
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
42321
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In the early morning hours of 5 September 1972 at the height of the Olympic Games in Munich, West Germany, a group of eight men disguised as competitors arrive at a lightly guarded fence at the Olympic Village. With the assistance of drunken American athletes sneaking back into the village, the men, part of an extremist faction of the Palestinian Liberation Organization known as Black September, climb the barrier. Armed with assault rifles and grenades hidden in their sports bags, the men break into a dormitory housing a number of Israeli athletes and after killing two of the resisting Israelis, take nine others hostage. Over the next twenty-three hours, people in the Middle East and all over the world watch the continual television news coverage of the terrorist attack, which ends tragically when the terrorists murder the nine Israelis and German security kills five of the Palestinians. Two weeks later in Jerusalem, General Zvi Zamir, the head of Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency, escorts Israeli-born agent Avner Kauffman to a meeting with Prime Minister Golda Meir and various ministers. Despite Israel’s retaliatory aerial and ground strikes against P.L.O. guerrilla bases on the Syrian and Lebanese borders, Zamir informs Avner that the prime minister has approved an additional clandestine operation to track down the Black September instigators of the Munich attack. Avner, Meir’s former bodyguard, agrees to consider participating in the mission, even though he has no experience as a field agent and knows he has been chosen because he grew up partially in Europe, prompting Meir to declare that Avner reminds her of his war-hero father. Avner is then left with Ephraim, ... +


In the early morning hours of 5 September 1972 at the height of the Olympic Games in Munich, West Germany, a group of eight men disguised as competitors arrive at a lightly guarded fence at the Olympic Village. With the assistance of drunken American athletes sneaking back into the village, the men, part of an extremist faction of the Palestinian Liberation Organization known as Black September, climb the barrier. Armed with assault rifles and grenades hidden in their sports bags, the men break into a dormitory housing a number of Israeli athletes and after killing two of the resisting Israelis, take nine others hostage. Over the next twenty-three hours, people in the Middle East and all over the world watch the continual television news coverage of the terrorist attack, which ends tragically when the terrorists murder the nine Israelis and German security kills five of the Palestinians. Two weeks later in Jerusalem, General Zvi Zamir, the head of Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency, escorts Israeli-born agent Avner Kauffman to a meeting with Prime Minister Golda Meir and various ministers. Despite Israel’s retaliatory aerial and ground strikes against P.L.O. guerrilla bases on the Syrian and Lebanese borders, Zamir informs Avner that the prime minister has approved an additional clandestine operation to track down the Black September instigators of the Munich attack. Avner, Meir’s former bodyguard, agrees to consider participating in the mission, even though he has no experience as a field agent and knows he has been chosen because he grew up partially in Europe, prompting Meir to declare that Avner reminds her of his war-hero father. Avner is then left with Ephraim, his case handler, who informs him that he will lead four pre-selected agents to locate, track and murder eleven Palestinians known to have contributed to the Munich plot. Ephraim explains that as the Israeli government will have no official connection to the mission, Avner must officially resign from Mossad. Avner is advised that the team must work exclusively in Western Europe and will be provided salaries and funding in U.S. dollars deposited in Swiss bank safe-deposit boxes. Later, Avner tells his pregnant wife Daphna that he has accepted a secret government assignment that will take him away for several months. A few days later in Geneva, Avner meets his team members: Belgian toymaker and explosives specialist Robert; South Afrikaner car expert Steve; older, stoic German “cleanup” man Carl Habibi and antique dealer Hans, in charge of documents and accounting. The following week, the team begins their mission in Rome using information provided by Avner’s old school friend Andreas and his associate Tony. After stalking and killing former Black September member Wael Zwaiter, a Palestinian translator, Avner and the others travel to Paris. There, Tony puts Avner in contact with Louis, a mysterious underground informer who, for sizeable payments, provides location information on anyone with the stipulation that no governments are involved in the exchange. The men are then shocked to hear the news that the hijacking of a German Lufthansa jet has resulted in the release of the three surviving Black September members involved in the Munich attack. Galvanized, the team focuses on their next target, Mahmoud Hamshari, the French representative of Black September. After a lengthy and careful setup that provides the team with details of the apartment Hamshari shares with his wife and young daughter, the men place an explosive in Hamshari’s telephone that will be detonated manually after a team member calls. On the day of the strike, however, the operation is abruptly aborted when Hamshari’s daughter unexpectedly returns home and answers the booby-trapped phone. The mission proceeds later when Hamshari is alone, but when the explosion does not immediately kill him, Robert is disturbed. Hamshari dies days later, while Avner takes a quick, unauthorized trip to Israel to visit Daphna, who gives birth to their daughter. Knowing it will be difficult to return to Israel again, Avner asks Daphna if she would consent to relocate to New York City, and although she is disappointed to remain alone in a strange country, Daphna agrees. On information again provided by Louis, the team reunites in Nicosia, Cyprus where their target is Hussein Abad Al-Chir, a P.L.O. organizer and liaison to the Soviet K.G.B. Promising more accurate results, Robert devises an explosive that is hidden in Abad Al-Chir’s hotel mattress to be detonated after a signal from Avner in the room next door. The resulting blast is enormous, breaking through to Avner, who escapes uninjured with Carl’s help. Later, under questioning, Robert insists the plastic explosive was a higher grade than requested and reveals the material was provided by Louis, prompting the group to grow suspicious of their shadowy contact. Nevertheless, when the Frenchman subsequently provides information that three names on the target list are in Beirut, Avner seeks approval for the hit through Ephraim. Angered when Avner refuses to reveal his source’s identity, Ephraim nevertheless reluctantly approves the attack, even though he had earlier told Avner that he could go after targets in Europe only. The men join a larger Israeli commando force in a fierce assault against the Lebanese P.L.O. stronghold where targets Kamal Nasser, Kemal Adwan and Abu Youssuf are killed with many others. Some days later, the team regroups back in Paris, where Louis takes Avner to a spacious country farmhouse to meet the leader of his organization, his father, who is known to Avner only as “Papa.” At a large family afternoon meal, Papa tells Avner that since his involvement in the French Resistance during World War II, he has been distrustful of all governments. Papa states he will overlook Avner leaking the terrorists’ Beirut location to Israeli officials but cautions Avner not to involve any government again. Back in Paris, Avner demands that Louis provide the whereabouts of Ali Hassan Salameh, a well-known, high-ranking Palestinian, designated as the creator of the Munich plot. Insisting that Salameh is too difficult a target, Louis instead provides Zaid Muchassi, the replacement for Abad Al-Chir in Athens. Although Muchassi is not on the list, Avner decides to target him, which prompts unease among the team. On the team’s first night in the Athen’s safe house recommended by Louis, they are stunned when a group of Palestinians arrive to use the same hideout, forcing Avner's team to hastily identify themselves as members of the extremist Red Army Faction of the German underground. While smoking outside, Avner speaks Arabic with a Palestinian, Ali, who expresses his confidence that one day his people will have a nation and a homeland of their own. The next day, using dated explosive material provided by Louis, Robert places a bomb inside the television in Muchassi’s hotel room. In the early morning, Muchassi returns to his hotel escorted by a number of Russians and, to Avner’s surprise, Ali and the Palestinians. Upon receiving the signal that Muchassi has retired alone to his room, Robert activates the remote control detonator but there is no explosion. After several attempts fail, Hans rushes into the hotel and, breaking down the victim’s door, hurls more bombs at the television, setting off the original explosives. After helping Hans out of the hotel, Avner and the others engage in a brief gunfight with the Russians and the Palestinians in which Ali is killed. The team members panic upon realizing they have also killed a Soviet agent and wonder about repercussions. Later, Robert and Steve complain that Louis may be sabotaging their efforts. Although uncertain, Avner agrees to pay Louis well when the Frenchman reveals that Salameh is in London meeting with American C.I.A. agents for whom he provides information. In London, Avner and the men stalk the well-guarded Salameh and decide to make a risky street attack. That night as Avner, Steve and Robert move in on their target, however, a group of drunken Americans swarm around them, mistaking them for former acquaintances. In the ensuing confusion, Salameh disappears. Afterward, the frustrated team speculates that the “drunk” Americans were C.I.A. agents protecting Salameh. Back at the hotel an unsettled Avner sits at the bar, where an attractive young woman flirts with him. On his way to his room later, Avner runs into Carl and playfully tells him about the woman at the bar. With several months having passed since Avner has seen Daphna, he telephones her and is moved to tears when he hears his baby daughter already able to speak. Disturbed, Avner returns to the bar, but unable to find Carl, returns upstairs where he smells the woman’s distinctive perfume. Amused and abruptly concerned, Avner goes to Carl’s room and finds his partner shot to death in bed. Seeking assistance from Papa and Louis, Avner learns that the woman in the hotel is Jeanette, a well-known Dutch assassin. Louis suggests that the team’s killing a Russian has now made them targets, but Avner resolves to go after Jeanette. Robert protests, insisting that despite the retaliatory nature of their mission, Jews are meant to be “righteous.” Without consulting Ephraim, Avner, Steve and Hans proceed to Hoorn, Holland where they locate and kill Jeanette on her private houseboat. Back on the continent during a lull when no intelligence is forthcoming, Avner grows increasingly anxious, checking and rechecking his surroundings for fear that he has become a target. His paranoia grows when in Frankfurt, Hans goes missing and is later discovered knifed to death on a park bench. Fearful that Papa and Louis may have betrayed them, Avner decides the remaining team members should lay low for a period, but soon after learns that Robert has accidentally blown himself up in Belgium while fashioning a new bomb. Distraught, Avner confronts Louis for assurance that Robert was not murdered, and swearing that he has not given them up, Louis then directs Avner to Spain, where Salameh is attending a large political gathering. Avner and Steve proceed there alone and successfully breach the fence of the well-defended Palestinian compound. Upon being discovered by an armed teenager, the pair just manage to escape in a hail of gunfire. Later the men are picked up by Israeli soldiers and, in Tel Aviv at a debriefing, Steve tells Ephraim of their suspicions about Papa and Louis, but Avner refuses to reveal further details about their identity or how to contact them. With the mission now officially terminated, Avner visits his mother, who insists that constant world persecution of Jews justifies all actions taken to defend Israel. Avner returns to Brooklyn, where, despite his happiness at being with Daphna and their daughter, he is overcome with thoughts of the Munich massacre and his two-year mission of vengeance. Obsessed with the thought that he and his family are now being targeted, Avner contacts Papa who promises Avner no harm will come from him. Avner’s subsequent visit to the Israeli consul demanding to know if he is being hunted results in a visit from Ephraim. Needing assurance that the mission was legitimate, Avner insists on proof that the Palestinians killed were indeed connected to the Olympic murders. Ephraim dismisses Avner’s distress and reveals that Avner’s team was only one of several sent on the same mission. Ephraim criticizes Avner for remaining in New York, accusing him of abandoning Israel, but when Avner attempts to make amends by inviting him to dinner, Ephraim refuses. Alone, Avner returns home. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award
The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.