Munich: The Edge of War is Netflix’s wash for an elite that’s still in power to this day

ONE Naughty party on the lawn. Luxury people get drunk while depriving them of their rights. People act like normal rules don’t apply to them. Men urinate. Although the booze is out, someone has a cheeky plan to get more… No, this is not Downing Street in a time of pandemic, this is the opening scene of Munich: Competition – a gripping nonsense film adapted from the book of the same name by the historical fictional giant Robert Harris.

It would be a shame if a movie damned because of the unfortunate timing was released, but when the movie falls on Netflix This week, it’s hard to get Munich serious amid the howls of national outrage at recent antics at No. 10. While the film is an attempt to repair Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s reputation before the war (witness David Davis quoted as saying: quoting what was said to a disgraced Chamberlain in 1940: “In the name of God, go”), it is primarily a movie about powerful but incompetent people from the privileged elite who are create a mess. I mean, tell me: what’s not to hate right now?

Harris’ promotion for the film centered on this slightly treacherous desire to redeem Chamberlain (prime minister 1937-1940), who at the Munich Conference of 1938 had declared to Hitler that he did not want to go to war. – only for Hitler to confound his policy of appeasement by being a jerk and not a gentleman. Every world leader since then, including Cameron and Obama in recent years, is said to be acting like Chamberlain. It became an accepted synonym for weak, overly trusting, or unable to grasp a situation. But as the world has gleefully designated Chamberlain as a totem character in Tory’s embarrassing defeat, Harris considers Chamberlain’s defeat “noble…not vile”.

In the film directed by German Christian Schwochow, Chamberlain is played by Harris’s friend Jeremy Irons – two men who I think are related to mention, previously tried to support another individual condemned by history, sex offender Roman Polanski. Unlike the #MeToo movement and its accusations against the director (who continues to make films and is still a fugitive from the US criminal justice system), it is fair to say there is no backlash. public action to restore Neville Chamberlain’s reputation. Have you noticed any grassroots campaigns to erect statues of him lately? Do not think so.

So, to embellish this revisionist history with a bit of glitz, the film’s actions revolve around two soaring young adults – one British, one German. We meet both at the aforementioned affair, which was lit up during their final days at Oxford University in 1932. Six years later and the Englishman, Hugh Legat (played by George MacKay), is one civil servant while his friend, Paul von Hartmann (Jannis Niewöhner), is a German diplomat increasingly terrified of the Führer’s radicalism and anti-Semitism. When Hitler threatens an invasion of Czechoslovakia, two college friends are plunged into espionage when a plan emerges to stop the dictator.

As an additional note, although it is set in the context of real events, involving real politicians at the real Munich Conference, it is important to state that the two men are fictitious. Worryingly, the film never explains that it’s all fantasy – an alarming omission, considering how an easy-to-browse and casual platform like Netflix can so easily attract unsuspecting viewers. Robert Harris and his historical fiction business. It’s not naive to think that some viewers might think the film is a real historical document. Anyone by chance, such as Quentin Tarantino’s World War II drama Inglourious Basterds would consider it a fantasy. A team of hardline working-class Jewish soldiers would clearly never shoot down a Nazi theater and shoot Hitler to death. But the sad thing about the world we live in is how sad it is to believe that a well-educated and ambitious couple goes wrong together, letting their country fall and generally call it off. last minute.

More disturbing is how continuous Oxbridge’s filmography is. It seems no one involved can think of a more relevant reference point to anchor the characters in. Right from the start, the hilarious film of black ties, evening dresses and outerwear – which later becomes the motif for all that is calm and good about the world – the film is in the oppressive bubble of its own Oxbridgeyness. When the light and puzzling Legat is vacated, one of the film’s dual “heroes” becomes attached to Chamberlain for the first time, the usually quiet Prime Minister will enthusiastically ask: “Are you an Oxford. ?” Lightning fast, he gave Legat a speech and wondered: “Perhaps an Oxford man… could improve it a bit?”

Alarmingly, the only figure who can reflect contemporary wariness about our elite institutions is Hitler. When Von Hartmann first met the Fuhrer, he was quick – as usual – to tell the truth that he had gone to Oxford. Hitler ended up mocking the word “Oxford” in his disdain. “Perhaps you think you’re smarter than me?” he asked Von Hartmann. If you’ve never met anyone Oxbridge before, I can confirm that this is a completely understandable sentiment.

Munich: The Edge of War Trailer

Truth: there’s more to developing characters in a historical thriller than just conjuring up Oxbridge. This seems to have slipped away from screenwriters Robert Harris (Cambridge) and Ben Power (Cambridge), who adapted the screenplay. Andrew Marr (Cambridge) didn’t mention it in a recent interview with Harris and Irons on BBC One, ditto Martha Kearney (Oxford) on Radio 4’s Today’s Program. It also failed to give mildly positive reviews of the film from Guardiansby Peter Bradshaw (Cambridge) and walkie talkieby Simon Heffer (Cambridge). Although the latter at least tries to helpfully remind us that “the Oxford undergraduate at the 1932 Celebration Festival will wear a white tie, not a black one”.

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So why is all of this important? What does luxury have to do with it? Well, for starters, Britain would benefit if it were more aware and embarrassed that its ruling elites – from Edward VIII to Lady Diana Mitford – were too welcoming and supportive. Hitler in the race to World War II. The Nazis’ grotesque sympathy for the few Britons who had ever met Hitler helped obscure his true self and caused politicians like Chamberlain to seriously misunderstand him when it mattered.

More importantly, we don’t need to re-evaluate Chamberlain but ignore the fact that if he wasn’t so arrogant, smug, arrogant, and basically weak, he would have discovered what millions of people have discovered. little distance from visible reality – that of Hitler’s determination to be ruthless, sly and thug. This extends to his advisers, such as the German ambassador Sir Nevile Henderson, played here by Robert Bathurst – who also serves as a confusingly useless luxury caricature in the film. psychedelic TV comedy London’s Toast. In Munich: Competition His main contribution was to deceive about Hitler’s vegetarianism.

Hugh Legat (George MacKay) lends Chamberlain the benefits of studying at Oxford

(Frederic Batier / Netflix)

And what does this have to do with today’s world? Well, who among us could learn about Downing Street parties and not use the same words – lofty, smug, arrogant and basically weak – about some of the key factors in the scandal. this background, could it be BYOB fan Martin Reynolds (Cambridge), giggle apologetic Allegra Stratton (Cambridge) or the big dog himself, Boris Johnson (Oxford)?

At a time when we are howling with anger at the character failures of the ruling classes, this film asks us to sympathize with them. I think not. This is like what I like to call a “luxury wash”: providing revolving facts that excuse the failures and insults of the privileged. In this context, can a film that retells the story of the Suez Crisis fall this far? That is a worry.

The most cursed thing about Munich: Competition is that it concerns only one victim of World War II: the reputation of a man who died 82 years ago. It has nothing to do with the fact that millions of people have lost their lives. I find it disconcerting that the time and talent was spent on the Chamberlain redemption project when fascism was on the rise globally, or when the concentration camps held a million Uyghurs in China.

During one of his three trips to Munich, Chamberlain famously said: ‘If the first time you don’t succeed, try, try, try again. “I’m not sure Robert Harris should try this one.

‘Munich: The Edge of War’ is streaming on Netflix right now

https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/films/features/munich-edge-of-war-netflix-b1997010.html Munich: The Edge of War is Netflix’s wash for an elite that’s still in power to this day

Tom Vazquez

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