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Terry Gross walks on by torment of ‘Munich’ in Bana interview

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I have NPR’s "Fresh Air" on as I work: an interview with actor Eric Bana. Host Terry Gross played that bitter scene in Munich, in which the Bana Mossad agent anti-hero Avner, expresses his disgust at his butchery, "I killed seven men." 

Avner soon asks in despair, "Did we accomplish anything at all?,"  then, later, "There’s no peace at the end of this, no matter what you believe.  You know this is true."

Mossad boss: "…You’re a sabra, your wife and daughter are sabras.  What I came to say is this, ‘Come home.’" [Return to Israel from Brooklyn, where Avner’s secreted himself and his family, as well as his tormented conscience.]

Long pause.

Avner: "Come to my house for dinner tonight.  Come on, you’re a Jew, You’re a stranger, It’s written some place or other that I’m meant to ask you to come and break bread with me.  So, [urgently] break bread with me, Effraim."

Short pause.

Boss refuses, "No."

Does Terry Gross ask about the deadly cycle of violence that Munich depicts or the nighmares Avner suffers?  No: she asks about accents, "You’re an Australian," "Was it hard to get the Israeli accent?" Gross moves from the trivial to the insulting, suggesting that we in the U.S. are unselfconscious bigots:

 "Americans don’t think of themrselves as having an accent.  We think of ourselves as being, like, the default setting.  You know, British people have accents, Australian people have accents, but we don’t. [Chuckle]" 

Then Terry asks what marks a yank accent, and gets flattery, "I think you speak very well," before Bana’s amusing imitations of "lazy" Australian and American accents.

Terry does not ask Bana what I most hoped to hear: how he interprets the meaning of Munich‘s haunting lines, as well as the story altogether. No mention of the controversial accusations of "anti-Semitism" that greeted the film or whether Bana faced any consequences in the U.S. for his role. I just found out Bana’s real name is "Eric Banadinovich."  I wish Terry had asked him about his change of name.

Susie Kneedler

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