Thursday, May 4th, 20:30
Video Installation by Dani Gal
Avner Kauffmann’s Déjà Vu
Simultaneous screening of two films:
“Munich” by Steven Spielberg and “Sword of Gideon” by Michael Anderson
In his new film “Munich”, which was screened recently in cinemas all over the country, Steven Spielberg deals with one of the delicate issues in Israeli history – the terrorist attack during Olympic Games in Munich, 1972, in which eleven Israeli sportsmen were killed by members of terrorist group “Black September”.
The story of the movie revolves around the character of Avner Kaufmann, an Israeli military officer who is personally recruited to the mossad by then Prime Minister Golda Meir to lead the spy team who will avenge the terror attack and will kill the terrorist involved in the attack.
Twenty years ago, HBO produced a television movie about the same historical events.
The thriller film, “Sword of Gideon,” also focuses on an Israeli agent named Avner who faces a similar crisis of conscience as Spielberg’s Avner and is wracked by guilt after helping assassinate Palestinians believed to be behind the Munich slayings.
Both movies are based on the same 1984 book, “Vengeance: The True Story of an Israeli Counter-Terrorist Team” by Canadian author George Jonas. But there are some scenes in the new movie that are staged very similarly to those in the older one. For example, in recreating the bloody last moments of the Munich crisis, when Palestinians fire on Israeli Olympians held captive in a helicopter, both movies use the same camera angle — from the perspective of the hostages. And both “Sword” and “Munich” feature a noteworthy scene that doesn’t appear in the book: a shot of a pensive Avner picking up the tobacco pipe of a fallen team member in a London hotel room.
Remaking movies and directors ripping each other off is not a new phenomenon in the movie industry. Munich’s case, though, is more interesting because of Spielberg’s attempt to show his take on world terror and his original position as a Zionist Jew while, actually, making a movie that had already been done and denying even seeing it.
Through the parallel screening, a situation occurs where cinematographic mechanisms become transparent and new connections emerge. For example, some scenes in one movie function as a cinematic visualization of a dialogue in the other.
What becomes interesting are the subtle readings that arise when the two films are screened together, namely, Spielberg’s kitchified simulacra take on the representation of terror. This results in a kind of “déjà vu” that underlines society’s tendency to emotionally frame ideas of terror and justice.