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MUNICH

Designing Munich
Munich takes place on a truly international scale, darting across 14 European and Middle Eastern countries in the course of the story, from Tel Aviv to Frankfurt, from Haifa to Paris, all during the early '70s. Shot entirely on location, the film required the creation of more than 120 sets, so it was essential the filmmakers find a home base that could offer them a variety of looks and landscapes.

Spielberg and his Academy Award®-nominated production designer Rick Carter found nearly everything they needed within the borders of two of the newest members of the European Union: the elegant Eastern European nation of Hungary and the Mediterranean island of Malta. Malta provided locations that could accurately double for all the Mediterranean and Middle East locales, while Hungary provided an ideal setting for the more than half a dozen different Northern European cities where the story of Avner and his covert assassination unit unravels.

A small island nation off the coast of Sicily, Malta stands at the crossroads between Southern Europe and Northern Africa, and despite its tiny size has found itself wrapped up in many grand historical events. From the wars of Rome to the battles of the Crusades to the Cold War, history has left its mark all over the island, making it an ideal resource and stand-in for multiple locales. For Munich, it was able to double for Israel, Cyprus, Lebanon, Greece, Italy, Palestine and Spain, with production designer Rick Carter building some 40 sets there.

"Malta has this kind of Mediterranean hodgepodge of culture where we could find areas that look like southern European locations in one spot and areas that look like Israel or Beirut in another,” Carter explains. "It actually gave us a way to visually divide the movie between the look of the hot, sunny, southern landscapes and the very different palette of the Northern European locations.”

Shooting in Malta began in Buggiba on the northeast coast. There, a small seaside café sported an Israeli flag underneath which extras dressed in the traditional garb of orthodox Jews crowded around a television set watching playback of the original 1972 Olympics newscast. From there the company moved around the corner to "the Olympic Hotel,” moving from Haifa to Cyprus within a few streets.

Many practical locations were utilized on the island: the historic 17th century Fort Riscoli and its barracks were transformed into a Palestinian refugee camp outside of Bethlehem; a square in the capital of Malta, Valetta, became the café in Rome where Andreas introduces Avner to Tony; a dry dock was dressed as the cosmopolitan 1970s Beirut; and private homes on the island doubled for seven different safe houses, as well as the home Avner shares with his wife Daphna, Avner's father's home, Golda Meir's apartment and the villa in Spain where Avner and Steve look for Salameh.

Later, the production moved to Budapest, the beautiful, architecturally rich city on the river Danube. These environs provided Carter and his team with locations they could transform into a London street, a boulevard in Paris, a houseboat in Hoorn, a café in Rome and a small country shack in Belgium, to name but a few. While it takes hours to travel from Rome to Paris by car, Rick Carter was able to make a similar journey in only a few minutes in Budapest. "This one street in Budapest—Andrassy Boulevard, across from the Opera House— was the best Paris-looking location that we could find. What was interesting is that literally half a block away was the best Rome!” Carter muses. Not only did the two countries provide a variety of landscapes, they also provided a window back into time. 

As Carter explains, "The story takes place in the '70s, which was still the post-WWII era, when there was a lot more grime and grit on the streets of Paris and London. Budapest is in its post-Communist state right now, so it shares some similari

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