The Monuments Men - Movie ReviewCategory: Movies
With an amazing cast, you would think this film would be a “must-see” for moviegoers. Unfortunately, it doesn’t exactly live up to all the hype. Yes, it is interesting, however a weak script makes this just a little less exciting than it should be.
That’s not to say people shouldn’t see the film. It does have a great story and lesson for everyone, and it’s based on the true story of a group of men who undertook the task of saving the art treasures of Europe before the Nazi’s took them all and later, the Russians.
The movie was based on the book by Robert Edsel, who said, “I was living in Florence, walking across the Pontevecchio Bridge – the only bridge that wasn’t destroyed by the Nazis as they fled in 1944 – and I wondered, this was the greatest conflict in history… how were all of these cultural treasures saved, and who saved them?” He set out to find the answers and the result was his book which George Clooney turned into this movie.’’
“I literally knew nothing about this story,” claims co-star Matt Damon, “which is why I was so surprised to find out it was real. It’s a terrific story. Ultimately, this is a movie about people who are wiling to sacrifice everything to save what is the very best of us, of humanity.”
The men, who take on the title The Monuments Men for their assignment, all feel that if the Nazis take and/or destroy all the art, it would remove traces of our civilization and wipe out a large part of human history. It wasn’t enough that they wanted to wipe out the Jews, but they wanted to take away other history as well – cultural history.
“This ensemble is just off the charts,” Damon claimed. Besides Damon and Clooney, the cast includes Bill Murray, John Goodman, Jean Dujardin, Hugh Bonneville, Bob Balaban, Dimitri Leonidas, and Cate Blanchett. It is a dream cast, to say the least, and each actor is evenly distributed, meaning no one is highlighted more than the other. They are a true ensemble. “There was a huge generosity of spirit in all the actors,” stated George Clooney, who also directed the film.
The group of characters consist of those not usually thought of to go into war, but they are not tasked with fighting, although they must face German guns from time to time. Their job is to find and identify stolen art and return them to their proper places. Much of the stolen art is from Jewish collectors, whose possessions were automatically confiscated, and the remainder of the stolen art was from museums and churches. However, besides the art, the Germans took many other possessions, including gold, Torahs, and other items.
“These men and women lived their life for art. They were artists and art caretakers who were willing to risk all for the art they loved,” John Goodman said. “I would like to think a lot of us would be willing to risk our lives to protect history and protect a culture – in this case Western culture but all cultures. It is the best of us. It defines us on a certain level.” That is what The Monuments Men were. They were protectors of culture and they risked their lives, and some lost their lives, to save Western culture and items of our civilization.
That said, the story is interesting even with the weak script. There was too much to squeeze into the two-hour film. In my opinion, it would have worked better as a four-part miniseries on cable. However, the cast is certainly worth their reputations and the film is a lesson of history.
The Monuments Men is rated PG-13 for some images of war violence and historical smoking.
About the Author
Francine Brokaw has been covering all aspects of the entertainment business for 20 years. She also writes about technology and has been a travel writer for the past 12 years. She has been published in national and international newspapers and magazines as well as Internet websites. She has written her own book, Beyond the Red Carpet: The World of Entertainment Journalists, from Sourced Media Books.
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