Hello again, dear readers! I hope that you are all experiencing a lovely spring-like day, like I am here. The fact that spring seems to be arriving is so wonderful and – at least for me – seems to bring with it a fresh wave of energy and inspiration.
Anyway, we (a few of my siblings, my dad and I) watched Munich: The Edge of War in two installments over the past couple of weeks. It was interesting, in a way, and I enjoyed putting together some thoughts on it here.
And on that note, let’s jump in!
PG-13 | 2020
Munich: The Edge of War is based on a semi-recent novel of the same name by the author Robert Harris. The essential fact is easily missed, the only note of it made during the end credits of the film. This film feels as though it could easily be historically accurate in full, when in reality, the plot is simply formed around a few historical facts.
Munich: The Edge of War opens with a party, a drunken Oxford graduation party, where we meet the two young men that this story revolves around, Hugh Legat and Paul von Hartman. Seconds later we are transported forward in time, and Legat now serves within the British government, in close contact with Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain himself. Von Hartman has returned to his homeland, Germany – a country firmly in the grip of Adolf Hitler – and also seems to be serving within the government.
As the story progresses – at a fast pace – the viewer is pulled into the drama and tension of a world at the brink of war. In Germany Von Hartman and his allies are planning a coup, an attempt to have Hitler arrested and removed from power. Their plan hinges upon Hitler’s invasion of Czechoslovakia, an invasion that the British are racing to delay, or stop.
We discover that Legat and Von Hartman’s friendship was shattered by political differences. Through Von Hartman, the viewer is reminded of why so many Germans were initially drawn to Hitler: the promise of a strong, proud and independent country. Legat comes down on the other side, attempting to raise the topic of Hitler’s hatred for Jews. Years lapse between their falling out and Von Hartman’s desperate plan to meet with Legat, at the hastily called and convened 1938 Munich Conference.
Through a series of strings pulled, the two men find themselves in the same space and, following a suspenseful walk, speaking together in bustling pub. Von Hartman quickly reveals his regret for the horrific miscalculation of his decision to back Hitler initially, and tells Legat that he must have a private meeting with the Prime Minister. He wishes to share an important and classified document that he believes will change the PM’s mind about signing the agreement.
The rest of the film follows Legat’s successful attempt to set up a meeting, the actual meeting – which results in nothing – and the fallout of the meeting, concluding with Legat and Von Hartman returning to their respective lives. Initially the film seems to be building up to this momentous meeting, but after Von Hartman’s hopes that Chamberlain will listen are dashed, the focus changes. Through a couple of long and tense scenes, the viewer realizes that the film was actually leading up to a moment where Von Hartman attempts to assassinate Adolf Hitler.
This moment – where Von Hartman is not only alone with Hitler, but also is holding a gun – is perfectly primed for action. That is, it seems so until it passes without any attempt on the part of Von Hartman. Although it would have been impossible for Hitler to actually be killed, the fact that Von Hartman does not even try to assassinate Hitler leaves the film’s ending feeling incredibly anti-climatic and rather disappointing.
The acting was strong, each actor well-suited for their role. I found the fact that a large amount of the dialogue was in German to be interesting; it made for a rather more authentic feel. The cinematography was interesting as well, the use of light and shadow increased the film’s suspenseful feel.
As far as fact vs. fiction, as I mentioned before very little of this film was based upon fact. The document that the story secondarily revolves around was an actual document – the minutes of a meeting where Hitler revealed his actual plans for taking over Europe – but this document seems to have been obtained and used only after the end of WWII. There was an actual plot to oust Hitler from power, but both Legat and Von Hartman could not have been involved, due to the fact that they are completely fictional characters.
Overall, Munich: The Edge of War is a suspenseful and largely interesting movie, but it left me rather disappointed for all the reasons mentioned above.
Have you see Munich: The Edge of War? Do you prefer movies with physical action Or suspenseful and exciting movies without physical action?