My hat is off to George Clooney for trying to tell the story of the Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives program which although represented by only 7 Monuments Men in his film, was actually an effort of over 350 individuals from various countries to preserve fine art in the last days of WWII.
Clooney (co-writer, director and star of the film) based his story on the book The Monuments Men: Allied Heros, Nazi Thieves and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History. The story is fascinating. Hitler and the Nazis had taken paintings, sculptures and other national treasures from France, Belgium, Poland and across Germany...much of it taken from Jewish collectors. Apparently up to 20% of the art in Europe was looted by the Nazis, and stored in various castles, salt mines, etc all over Germany. Most was recovered but in 2012 a large quantity of Nazi looted art was found in a Munich apartment and much art is still missing and may never be found.
The film The Monuments Men is well worth seeing, although a bit clumsy in it's attempt to be both serious and lighthearted. After seeing the deft way the Brits take us on the emotional roller coaster between tears and laughter in Philomena, this film was less successful. Still, even though it veers into Hogan's Heroes territory at times, I did quite enjoy it.
|Manet's In The Conservatory being recovered from a salt mine|
|In The Conservatory by Manet, now in the Alte Nationalgallerie in Berlin|
It is likely that Hollywood would not have made this film without the Clooney machine behind it and the fact that he convinced all of his friends and big name co-stars to take a much lower salary than they usually would. So although George takes it on the chin about his predilection for Amazonian models half his age, we really need more film stars like him around. I think he might want to leave the directing to someone else next time however.
So again, go for a light evening of entertainment and to learn a bit about art and Europe in the final days of WWII. No Academy Awards here, but you might enjoy seeing Bill Murray as an architect and John Goodman as a sculptor. Oh and Cate Blanchett as a French ice queen who hits on Matt Damon. :)
Let me know what you think of the film if and when you see it.