Guri Weinberg played his own father. He is the son of Moshe Weinberg, the Israeli wrestling referee and former champion, who died in the massacre when Guri was just one month old.
Some details from the real mission were left out in this movie. One of them was when the group found one of the terrorists in Norway. The target was exiting a bus with a pregnant woman, and they killed him. The authorities tracked down the Agents' license plate number and arrested them, but it was later revealed that they had shot the wrong man. He wasn't even Palestinian, but a Moroccan waiter, and the pregnant woman was his wife. One detail that was included was another hit executed with two of the Agents dressed in drag, one of whom was Ehud Barak, who went on to become Prime Minister of Israel in 1999.
Avner is referred to as a "sabra" more than once. This is an Israeli term for a native born Jew, as opposed to an immigrant. "Sabra" originally referred to a tough kind of cactus (Opuntia cactus) which grew out in the desert.
During the scene where Avner's (Eric Bana's) team joins up with the Israeli commandos in Beirut, one of the commandos introduces himself as Ehud Barak. Barak was a member of the most elite commando force of the Israeli army, Sayeret Matkal, before becoming a politician and eventually Israel's Prime Minister.
The ending of the movie conflicts with the real-life one, where the Mossad Agents successfully bombed the mastermind of the Munich killings, along with his four bodyguards and three innocent bystanders. They also injured sixteen innocent bystanders.
Actor and Director Mathieu Kassovitz had left strict instructions to his agent that he would not take any acting assignments at all, as he wanted to fully concentrate on directing features. However, this film was an exception. According to him, he accepted the role of Robert, because he jumped at the chance to work with Steven Spielberg.
In a rare instance of his Steven Spielberg did not make any promotions and interviews for this movie.
The time span between the start of production to the release date in December of 2005 was less than six months.
This film is based on George Jonas' book "Vengeance". It purports to tell the true story of vengeance taken against the Black September terrorists using a supposed former Mossad Agent named Yuval Aviv as Jonas' main source. The Israeli intelligence community has denied Aviv's claims, saying he is a fraud. Aviv counters their denial by saying that they would deny him anyway.
The film crews called the shooting of the movie as a "race against the clock". In order to have the film ready by Christmas for Academy Awards consideration, Steven Spielberg and Editor Michael Kahn devised an editing schedule in which: 1) All of the scenes in Malta and Hungary shot in twelve weeks were edited on the spot. Each day, Spielberg would review an edited scene shot two days earlier. 2) Two copies of the edited scene were sent out, one to John Williams for music and the other to Ben Burtt for sound effects. 3) The Paris and New York City scenes were edited two weeks after photography, and the final cut was readied after another two weeks.
Two days before filming his final scene, Ossie Beck (Eliezaar Halfin) discovered that his grandfather had been in Mossad.
One of the posters in the athletes' apartment is of Masada (captioned in Hebrew script). Masada is of great significance in Jewish history, as it is a fortress Hebrew rebels held out in against Roman troops. Many of the rebels were killed or committed suicide, but it relates to the themes of death and resistance in this movie.
In the opening segment of the movie, there is a brief shot of two Israeli girls watching television appearing twice. The one on the left is Steven Spielberg's daughter Sasha Spielberg.
Atlantic Productions, producers of BAFTA-nominated documentary Munich: Mossad's Revenge, listed several discrepancies between Spielberg's film and the information it obtained from interviews with Mossad agents involved in the operation. It noted that the film suggests one group carried out almost all the assassinations, whereas in reality it was a much larger team. Mossad did not work with a mysterious French underworld figure as portrayed in the book and the film. The assassination campaign did not end because agents lost their nerve but because of the Lillehammer affair in which an innocent Moroccan waiter was killed. This is not mentioned in the film. The targets were not all directly involved in Munich, which Spielberg only acknowledges in the last five minutes. The murder of a female Dutch assassin depicted in the film, as well as in George Jonas' book "Vengeance", went unacknowledged by the documentary, implying that it is completely fictional.
The film stars a future James Bond (Daniel Craig) and two former Bond villains: (Michael Lonsdale), and (Mathieu Amalric). Lonsdale and Amalric's characters are father and son in film.
The role of Ephraim was intended for Sir Ben Kingsley, but he backed out, due to a change to the ending of The Terminal (2004). It caused the start of the production to be pushed back a few weeks later, thus conflicting with Kingsley's work schedule on Oliver Twist (2005).
To create the blue pastel effect in the Beirut scenes, special Fuji film stocks were used exclusively. The notable challenge for that was that it has to be processed in a Fuji lab (in this case in France) since most Technicolor labs use Kodak calibrations and a reprint is required if there was a case of a print printed to the wrong specifications.
The film was not shot in Munich or Germany at all. The Munich scenes were mostly shot in Budapest, Hungary.
Steven Spielberg was going to direct this film for a 2003 or 2004 release, but shelved it when Tom Cruise became available, so the duo could work on War of the Worlds (2005) instead.
After getting the rights to George Jonas' book "Vengeance", Steven Spielberg commissioned three scripts: one from David Webb Peoples and Janet Peoples, one from Charles Randolph, and one from Eric Roth. Roth's script was chosen and subsequently revised by Tony Kushner, after Kushner first declined to co-write the screenplay. He felt it was too controversial and too complicated to be his first screenplay for a feature film.
The film was denounced by the Israeli government when first released in 2005, as they found its depiction of Mossad (the Israeli Secret Service) and real-life events to be highly inaccurate. One Israeli government spokesperson at the time remarked, "Spielberg should stick to making films about dinosaurs."
The quote that Papa shares with Avner when telling him that he is being hunted is loosely taken from Ecclesiastes 9:11: "I returned and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happen to them all."
Although Marie-Josée Croze character is credited as Jeannette, the Dutch assassin, her name is never mentioned in the movie.
A crew truck imported from Germany and laden with heavy equipment, mysteriously caught fire during shooting in Malta, sparking fears of a possible terrorist attack. Local police attributed the fire to generators overheating due to the heat of the Maltese summer.
French fluent actors Mathieu Kassovitz, Michael Lonsdale, Mathieu Amalric, Marie-Josée Croze and Valeria Bruni Tedeschi dubbed themselves in the French version.
The painting on the wall, behind Avner, in the "safe-house" scene is "Children Eating Grapes and a Melon" by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo. The painting currently resides in Alte Pinakothek, Munich.
Avner asks his German contact Andreas (played by Moritz Bleibtreu) if he and his girlfriend are affiliated with Baader-Meinhof aka the Red Army Faction. Bleibtreu would later play RAF co-founder Andreas Baader in The Baader Meinhof Complex (2008).
The only Best Picture Oscar nominee that year not to be nominated in any of the acting categories.
At the beginning, one of the Israeli players is cutting a piece of bread before the hostage situation began. At the end, Avner (Eric Bana ) tells Ephraim (Geoffrey Rush ) to come to his house to dinner and "break bread".
This is the first film directed by Steven Spielberg to be released by Universal Pictures since The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997).