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Last week, I reviewed the film Educating Rita and shared some memories from my college years in the early 1980s. Tina shared reviews for Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro and Not Dark Yet by Peter Robinson.
As promised in my Sunday Salon post, here are my thoughts on the film Munich–The Edge of War, a film that premiered at the London Film Festival in the autumn of 2021, had a limited theatrical release in early 2022, and is now streaming on Netflix.
The movie begins with a lovely scene of students at an outdoor party in Oxford in 1932. Hugh Legat (George MacKay, 1917, Pride) and his German friends and fellow students, Paul and Lena, tease each other, good-naturedly, about the defining characteristics of their nationalities. That’s a perfect setting for me. Given the title of the movie, though, I knew it wouldn’t last.
The trailer focuses on the fictional part of this story, about the spy thriller that Hugh and Paul find themselves in during the high-stakes negotiations in Munich on September 29 and 30, 1938.
I was more interested in the historical part, though. Prime Ministor Neville Chamberlain (played by Jeremy Irons) is portrayed in history as the coward who attempted to appease Hitler with the Sudetenland, but only encouraged further aggression.
This film portrays Chamberlain much more sympathetically as a man who heroically sought after every chance at peace. I won’t reveal the conclusion, so that you can enjoy learning it from the movie.
Instead, here’s a quote by Chamberlain from nearer the beginning of the film that reveals how close in time that World War I and World War II were to each other:
Of course, you were too young to serve in the Great War, Legat. And I was too old. Somehow, that made things worse. It was absolute agony to see such suffering and feel so powerless.
Historians have begun to take a more sympathetic look at Neville Chamberlain, especially as documents get declassified that reveal just how limited his options were. This article in Slate lays out the argument — but you might want to watch the movie first to avoid spoilers from history.
Have you seen Munich–The Edge of War? What did you think?