Monuments Men ~ A Review


I have never really been a fan of artwork mostly, I think, because I do not understand it.  I can appreciate the work and I find it fascinating that God has given people gifts such as painting and sculpting but it just is not for me.  I do appreciate art from an historical perspective and believe that we need to preserve as much of this as possible and that it should be available to people so I was looking forward to going to see the Monuments Men and I was finally able to get to see it this past weekend.

Set at the tail end of World War II to movie tells the story of a small groups of men, mostly Americans but one Brit and one from France, whose task it is to locate and preserve works of art that had been stolen by the Nazis as they ransacked Europe.  Hitler had a plan for a vast museum that would showcase the war booty and it was up this small group of professionals to get the art back.

These men were not soldiers they were artists and others engaged in like professions such as architects.  They were given basic army training and sent off to Europe to begin their mission.  Not really sure where to start on of the men James Granger, played by Matt Damon, was sent to France to meet with the curator of one of the largest museums in Paris.  As it turned out Claire Simone, played by Cate Blanchett, kept excellent records of all of the art work that passed through the museum and where it was sent.  This gave them enough information to begin their search.

These masterpieces of art were being stored in mines all around France and Germany and as it was found it was cataloged, and if the previous owner was known or could be determined, it was returned.  As it turned out most of the art was owned by Jews who had met their fate in the death camps and it would be next to impossible to return.

One of the most poignant moments of the movie for me was when the men opened a contained in one of the mines and it was filled with gold nuggets.  At first they were puzzled by this, then came the realization that these nuggets came from teeth.  This brought the viewer back to the absolute brutality of the Nazi plan to exterminate the entire race of Jews and others during the war.

The movie is peppered with times of seriousness as well as comedy from comedic masters Bill Murray and John Goodman and along with Damon and Blanchett, George Clooney rounds out the cast as Frank Stokes the leader of this group.

As someone who studies history the men who risked their lives to preserve these works of art was invaluable and we all owe them a debit of gratitude.


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