SPIELBERG’S PREDECESSORS

By Saul Austerlitz

Published December 16, 2005, issue of December 16, 2005.

“Munich” is not the first film to take on the subject of anti-Israeli or anti-Jewish terrorism. Here’s a selection of notable past works on the subject:

“VISIONS OF EIGHT” (1973)

— The official film of the Munich Olympics, directed by a slew of international directors, including Milos Forman, Kon Ichikawa and Arthur Penn. Surprisingly, only one segment makes significant mention of the death of the Israeli athletes: British Jew John Schlesinger’s “The Longest.”

“VICTORY AT ENTEBBE” (1976) — The first of two television films on Entebbe, this one features a remarkable cast (Elizabeth Taylor, Burt Lancaster, Kirk Douglas, Anthony Hopkins) but lacks some of the realist urgency of the next one, “Raid on Entebbe.”

“RAID ON ENTEBBE” (1977) — The better of the two American Entebbe films, enjoyable just for seeing Peter Finch as Yitzhak Rabin, and Charles Bronson and Jack Warden as Israeli military officers.

“OPERATION THUNDERBOLT” (1977) — Nominated for an Oscar for best foreign language film, this Israeli retelling of the Entebbe story has not aged well, its New Wave touches overwhelmed by the cheesiness of its exposition.

“THE HIJACKING OF THE ACHILLE LAURO” (1989) — Karl Malden and Lee Grant star in this television film on the 1985 hijacking of an Italian cruise ship by Palestinian terrorists.

“VOYAGE OF TERROR: THE ACHILLE LAURO AFFAIR” (1990) — Another television film on the Achille Lauro, with the impressively glamorous duo of Burt Lancaster and Eva Marie Saint starring as passengers Leon and Marilyn Klinghoffer.

“ONE DAY IN SEPTEMBER” (1999) — An Oscar-nominated documentary on the events of the Munich Olympics.

“THE DEATH OF KLINGHOFFER” (2003) — John Adams’s acclaimed Achille Lauro opera, whose haunting music is occasionally dinged by a strangely sympathetic portrayal of the terrorists.



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