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Revisiting 'Munich'

12 May, 2006 By: Thomas K. Arnold

Eric Bana and Ayelet Zurer in Munich.

Munich arrived this month on DVD, the last of this year's best-picture Oscar nominees to be released on disc.

Eric Bana, who plays head terrorist-hunter Avner, believes this film may play better in homes than it did in theaters. Despite buzz from being a Steven Spielberg film, it grossed less than $50 million.

“The DVD is really more important to this film than other DVDs are to their films,” Bana said.

The controversy that surrounded the film's theatrical bow — Munich deals with the secret Israeli hit team dispatched to kill 11 Arabs thought to be behind the massacre of 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympics — may have “hijacked” people's opinions, Bana said.

Israeli officials and fundamentalist Jews attacked the film for allowing the Palestinian side of the story to be heard, while the alleged mastermind of the attack blasted filmmakers for not consulting him. Spielberg also was accused of historical inaccuracy by both sides.

“Now, some time has gone by, and hopefully, people will get to receive the film on their own terms, without projecting onto it,” he said. “And this film is purely and simply too bloody good for people to have predisposed ideas about it.”

Bana said his favorite scene in Munich also is one of the most controversial: Avner meets a Palestinian terrorist named Ali, who proceeds to blast Israel for taking the Palestinian homeland.

“I remember being quite scared about doing it because there was so much important dialogue, and it's kind of a condensed version of what the entire film is about,” Bana said.

Munich arrived on DVD in two editions from Universal Studios Home Entertainment: a single-disc edition with an introduction by Spielberg exclusive to the DVD, and a two-disc collector's edition packed with bonus features, including documentaries about the making of the movie, the impact of the massacre and the huge international cast (there were more than 150 speaking parts).

Bana just finished shooting his next film, Romulus, My Father, in his native Australia. It was a seven-week shoot, about half the time it took to make Munich. But three months didn't seem long at all, Bana said, considering that after signing up to play Avner, he had to wait two years before filming got underway.

As difficult as the role might have been, “I ended up with more time than I needed” to prepare, Bana said. Still, he calls the delay “a godsend,” noting it gave him more time to master his Israeli accent and study the history of the Middle East.

Bana has plenty of memories of the 164-minute film's shoot, “some shocking, some funny.”

“The role itself was pretty taxing, and the shoot was pretty full, but I loved it.”

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