The Monuments Men

World War II proved to be one of the most devastating wars to mankind. Millions lost their lives in Hitler’s quest to eradicate a culture and build a German empire. A small team of men sought to retrieve and protect stolen pieces of art that represented the foundation of society’s culture. These men were called The Monuments Men.

At first, I thought The Monuments Men would be a very serious drama that would border on the boring. The movie, however, proved to be quite the opposite. George Clooney did a pretty good job directing this movie to capture the plot of the book (written by Robert M. Edsel). There were a few drawbacks, however. At times, I felt as if the movie were split – Clooney tried to incorporate humor into the drama that didn’t quite mesh very well. Granted, the comedic elements were certainly pretty funny; but I felt as if they were out of place at times. Instead of coming across as a serious drama, I would more-so say that the movie was a “quirky drama”, if that makes sense. Overall though, I wouldn’t discredit Clooney’s direction. It was pretty good; but perhaps it can be polished.

As for the cast, an excellent selection of Hollywood’s greats played the roles of these historical figures who searched for thousands of stolen artistic masterpieces as the war came to its end: George Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman, Jean Dujardin, Bob Balaban, and Hugh Bonneville. Kate Blanchett also starred as a key woman of the French Resistance that assisted the Monuments Men in completing their mission. Carefully cataloged and tracked stolen artifacts during the Nazi occupation of France. The true Monuments Men were unassuming men of art: curators, art historians, and museum directors, and yet they were brave enough to risk their lives to save humankind’s greatest achievements. I was very pleased with the cast because they had an excellent group dynamic in portraying the determination and courage that this small group of men faced. They also played off of each other well, making their bonds feel authentic. Sitting in the audience, I could hear and feel how the others attending reacted to these men: their laughter, their tears, their shock, and their patriotic pride.

After watching this movie, I gained a new found respect for the role of art in our culture. Despite my reservations about the direction of the film, I thought it was pretty good. Any history buff, art lover, or person who likes a good treasure hunt would enjoy this movie.

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