on Munich and meaning in film

Barbara Nicolosi saw Munich this week, and liked it. I didn’t. And in one of her comments boxes, I added this:

My feeling is that Munich didn’t contain much in the way of wisdom. And without wisdom, do you really have art?

I mean, either the universe means something or it doesn’t. Take your pick. Everyone has a right to a world view. But, in the end, not everyone’s world view is correct. Either God exists or he doesn’t. Either the world is ultimately a place of mercy and benevolence or it isn’t.

I guess, in an American sort of way, you could say that Speilberg, as a filmmaker, has a right to nihlism and a right to tell lies on the big screen. But I don’t think that those who are not nihlists have to endorse it or call it art.

For the believer, it’s a bit hard to get around the fact that Wisdom was with the universe from the very origins of its creation… and that the Fall didn’t obliterate this fact… if anything, the Fall and the sins of the ages only make the wisdom and goodness of the Creator more evident, providing a sort of negative space around the main subject of God’s canvas, if you will.

Put another way, there’s a sense in which we wouldn’t feel dissonance in the experience of evil if original man did not exist. (See JPII’s Theology of the Body for more on that concept).

Is there a value in having an artist simply detail the negative space of his canvas? I suppose it could call the rest of the work of art into sharp relief. Does this meet a human need? Maybe it can tease a plea for mercy out of the heart of obdurate man, but I think it’s more likely that it will simply endorse his inclination to despair.

And I think that despair is the artistic path of least resistance; what is revolutionary, and truly creative, is hope.

What did anyone else think?

2 thoughts on “on Munich and meaning in film

  1. I won’t argue with Speilberg’s skill. Just wish he were better at putting it at the service of the human family.It’s not that I require films to be light and fluffy. I loved 21 Grams, for instance. But 21 Grams was a story told through a very different sort of lens. Speilberg is incapable of producing an effective tragedy, I think, because you can’t have tragedy without the possibility of human greatness. And I consider him a tragic hero for that reason. Grace is being offered, and the skill is abundant, but he seems to be choosing another path.

  2. Just to be clear, Clayton. I think the craft in the film was extraordinary, but I do question whether the despair in the film is moral. I realize your point that despair goes to technique, and I think that is interesting.But I am going to hold the turf that maintaining a consistent emotional tone and, in this case, fear, takes an incredible amount of skill on the part of the filmmaker. Munich acheived this. I didn’t have another experience at the theater this year that was as emotionally riveting.

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