I had the pleasure this afternoon, of seeing a film which deals with a key part of history, that many people probably have not heard of before. 'The Monuments Men', adapted from the book 'The Monuments Men' by Robert Edsel, the film is directed by George Clooney and starring himself, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman, Jean Dujardin, Bob Balaban, Hugh Bonneville, Cate Blanchett, and Dimitri Leonidas. Since this review is different from the usual movie fair I write about on here, I should preface my thoughts on the film, with some background on the story behind the film.
With every great mark in history, there are other sides to that mark, deeper etchings then what is just scratched on the surface. World War II will always be remembered as one of the bloodiest, and most important wars in human history. 72 million people died during the war, 6 million of those people were Jewish. And while Hitler had set out with the goal of conquering Europe and eradicating the Jewish people off the face of the Earth, he also set about to plunder Europe of its greatest treasures, it's art, its culture. In the years leading up to the Allied invasion of Normandy, the Nazi's plundered from across France, Poland, and the rest of occupied Europe its finest works of art. In response to this, President Roosevelt put together a division of the most unlikely people, museum curators, art historians, sculptors, men of culture, to go into Europe and using their knowledge, preserve and protect the culture of the world. That meant carefully cataloging buildings, paintings, statues, great works of art and ensuring that they made it back to their rightful owners. Most of these great works had been taken by the Nazi's and hidden away, and as the war swayed in the favor of the allies, the Nazi's grew desperate. In their desperation, they were ordered by Hitler to destroy anything culturally significant, including the art. But because of the diligence and hard work of the Monuments Men and those who aided them in their mission, many of the great paintings and pieces that would have been lost to us forever, are still with us today.
The film captures the spirit of the story like lightening in a bottle. Mixed in with lighthearted humor against a dark war backdrop, the story of these brave men and women is show to us, the people. The cast does an excellent job, and they all work together so well. While the names are different from those in recorded history, the purpose is the same, to find, protect, and preserve, the cultural history of humanity. And while the film does at times seem slow and disjointed (moving the pacing from humorous to serious can throw a person off), it doesn't deter from the main focus of the story. At the end of the day, the movie left me wondering what other aspects of the war wasn't I aware of, what other parts of great points in history are not known to the people? For all those who love history, or love learning about new aspects of history, I highly recommend this film. In the end I give it 4.5 out of 5 stars for its amazing story, cast and for presenting to us, the people, the story of the few who fought to preserve a great part of what we as people stand for.