Monday, February 10, 2014

Movie Review: The Monuments Men

Donna and I recently went to see The Monuments Men. It is based on the book The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History by Robert M. Edsel. I do not know how accurately the book follows history, and I am not aware of how closely the movie follows the book. Regardless, for us, it was an enjoyable movie.

The movie follows a specially created platoon of mostly older men who attempt to rescue art stolen by the Nazis during World War II. The older men are museum directors, curators, and art historians. As the war grinds to an end, they seek art works plundered by the Nazis in an attempt to save them from destruction and return them to their rightful owners. It is a race against time, against the Nazis, against the Russians, and against the bombs of the Allied forces.

The movie is directed by George Clooney, who also stars in the film as Lt. Frank Stokes, the leader of the platoon. Other notables in the film include Matt Damon as Lt. James Granger, Bill Murray as Sgt. Richard Campbell, John Goodman as Sgt. Walter Garfield, and Cate Blanchett as Claire Simone.

The film's narrative is a bit erratic and does not seem to flow smoothly from scene to scene. But you could argue that war does not flow smoothly.

The central question of the movie regards the value we place on art. Is art worth a human life? What is the value of art for a country, for a culture? This is a question each of us must answer individually; it is a question that each member of the platoon answered at some point in the movie.

I liked the movie, and I think Donna did as well. Of course, part of our enjoyment was the result of the movie starring folks we like, especially Clooney and Damon.

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