The Malta Independent 22 July 2019, Monday

All Malta Is just one big film-set for Spielberg’s Munich

Malta Independent Sunday, 22 January 2006, 00:00 Last update: about 6 years ago

Munich, Steven Spielberg’s latest film, will open in Malta and Europe this week.

Maltese cinemagoers should, and will, flock to it, and with good reason too as the film has mostly been shot on location in Malta.

Unlike other blockbusters filmed here, from Gladiator to Troy, this film was not all shot a closed location, but in various identifiable sites around Malta.

Right at the very beginning there is a long shot of Eric Bana and another actor walking along the Sliema promenade masquerading as a seaside place in Israel.

There is a curious story within a story here that gives it an ironic twist, for right opposite the place where they are walking, in front of the Diplomat Hotel, that the leader of Hamas, Fathi Shqaqi was murdered by the Mossad some years ago. This is the real world, not cinema.

The curious, mysterious relationship between Malta and the Middle East has never been so obvious.

Next we get a shot of Queen’s Square in Valletta as an Italian piazza, somewhat difficult to do with the statue of Queen Victoria in the middle, and the square in Rabat in front of the church, yet another one turned into an Italian piazza.

Then the hotel in Bugibba in its role as a hotel in Cyprus, complete with the terrible explosion that blows out the windows and balconies of the same hotel. That hotel should market its Munich connection for all it’s worth: it should be a kick to stay at the hotel ‘blown up’ in Munich.

Also the other ‘hotel’ on top of Victoria Gate in Valletta – only this is not a real hotel at all but a series of Maltese houses with the traditional typical balconies that get blown up too.

There is here yet another instant of the curious juxtaposition of fact and fiction. I know from sources, who are usually reliable, that the Mossad team which came to Malta to murder Shqaqi, masqueraded as an Israeli family here on holiday grandparents and all, and resided in a house in St Ursula Street, just round the corner from the ‘hotel’ where a Palestinian terrorist was blown up together with half the house, supposedly in Athens.

There are also glimpses of St Paul Street in Valletta and the airport, which is made to look like Lod Airport in Israel.

Other scenes have been shot in Malta but you would have to know which and where they are: the hospital scene, for instance, when the protagonist’s wife has her baby, was filmed in St Dorothy’s School in Zebbug, and the derelict house in Athens where the two sets of gangs are tricked into a meeting and almost have a shoot-out is a derelict house in Rabat.

My comments on the film will appear next week, as this is not an opinion of whether it is a good film or not, or whether it will make the Oscar nominations or not.

I very much believe Maltese audiences must insist with cinema owners to run the credits right to the very end, for it is right at the end, as the haunting music comes to a crescendo, that the ‘Malta team’ is listed with the names of the many Maltese who took part in the production of the film.

Speaking nationalistically, whatever award the film gets, it makes us Maltese proud.

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