3.5 out 5 stars
The events surrounding the signing of the Munich Agreement on 30 September 1938 which was meant to keep Germany from invading Czechoslovakia. This meeting and subsequent documents have become synonymous with the failed expansion of the Nazi regime. Yet, most of us are unfamiliar with the political efforts of the British and French to keep a tight rein on Adolf Hitler and his expansion ideals. Based on the novel Munich by Robert Harris, the author attempts to deliver a bit of historical fiction that may help audiences to understand all that went on behind the scenes. Specifically, how Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain was doing all he could to keep the world from another devastating war.
At the heart of the story are three friends who met at Oxford and eventually went on to play significant roles in the events surrounding the signing of the infamous document. After graduating from the prestigious university, Hugh Legat (George MacKay) eventually became the British prime minister's secretary (Jeremy Irons). Work keeps him away from his family and becomes exceptionally involved as the world seems to be on the precipice of war with Germany. Due to his time in Germany as a student, he is eventually chosen to accompany the entourage that will fly to sign the agreement.
All the while, Paul von Hartmann (Jannis Niewöhner) is working with the resistance within the German government who are hoping to overthrow Hitler. He manages to come into possession of documents that could change the course of the diplomatic event and history. As a former classmate of Hugh Legat, he works to contact his friend through intelligence channels. The pair must determine if they can connect during the conference and if the information they hold will change any of the officials' minds.
This unassuming espionage adventure is based on fictional characters set within one of the most significant events before World War II. Even though the accounts are based on actual friends from Oxford, Robert Harris weaves together a story that makes for a wonderful ‘what could have been’ depiction of history. He does not change the events and inevitable fallout that would occur. Still, the author does manage to depict Chamberlain as a man who was the right man for the time. One who would eventually look the fool, but in reality, his actions would provide the Allies time to build their forces for the inevitable world-changing conflict.
What is masterful about this production is director Christian Schwochow's ability to show both sides of this conflict with finesse that equals the delicate diplomacy shown on screen. George MacKay and Jannis Niewöhner prove to be ideally suited as the naive idealists who mature throughout the film. While Jeremy Irons shows his everlasting skills as the senior statesman who embodies his role with convincing form. A performance that is equal parts respectable diplomat and pity for the man who would be credited with failing to see Hitler’s horrific future. Munich - The Edge of War provides us a look behind the curtain of history’s great turning points while showing how human heart and fanaticism have not changed. A film that offers something for the historian and those seeking an intense glimpse into the reality of espionage.
REEL DIALOGUE: Sacrifice: career before everything else?
Within the screenplay, the driving element has to do with sacrifice. It shows all that each individual had to give up in life provides humanity and nobility to the work these government officials experience in the historically fictionalised world of espionage.
Within the realities of life, jobs, and personal relationships, it is worth considering what sacrifices we all are willing to make for the sake of our career or country. Audience members may not have to make decisions that impact the lives of millions of people. Still, every day does present different choices that may affect your family, friends and co-workers. How do you determine the line of how much you are willing to forgo for the sake of moving ahead at work or getting a project online?
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship” - Romans 12:1
This is a more significant query than can be extrapolated in a film review. Still, an excellent place to begin this journey is to consider a biblical perspective on sacrifice. The God of the Bible gives us the example of Jesus to show us how to live a daily existence, regardless of the challenges, temptations and difficulties. Also, these words help us to deal with extreme and mundane situations.