During World War II, Hitler was not only invading countries and slaughtering the people of Europe, he was stealing their art as well. As he tore through cities, his Nazi thugs routinely took all valuable art and stored it away until it could be safely moved back to Germany. Hitler planned to open a huge museum, the Führermuseum, where all this ill-begotten art would be showcased to the world.
Frank Stokes (Clooney) is a museum director who persuades the US President Roosevelt to allow him to assemble a team to find and return the stolen art to its rightful owners. FDR agrees and the team is all but assembled before the opening credits are finished. These 7 men, together with Parisian art curator Claire (Blanchett), begin the search for the stolen art.
The assembled team, who were given the nickname of the Monuments Men, are a somewhat bedraggled yet thoroughly knowledgeable group of men. Consisting of a few brash Americans, a few quieter more serious Americans, a very British Brit and a suave and charming Frenchman, the team was always going to see the lighter side of their very important mission. Don’t get me wrong, they are very focused and prepared to risk their lives to save this precious art but this is not a war movie.
The movie is also a treasure hunt as nobody knows where the Nazi’s are storing all the artwork…and there are literally hundreds of thousands of pieces. Paintings, statues, artifacts, jewels and jewellery, it is all gone and being kept somewhere safe. But where?
We are also told that Hitler has given orders that should he be killed or the Nazi’s defeated, all the artwork is to be destroyed. It is truly a race against time.
As the movie is based on a true story and considering the rather serious subject matter, I was nervous as to how Clooney, who is also the movie’s Director, would handle the material. The trailer seemed light, a tad flippant….. it reminded me of Oceans 11. However, the end result is a nice balance between serious and some light hearted moments.
I will admit I had never given this particular subject matter much thought. World War II has always been about Hitler, the holocaust, Pearl Harbour and the bombing of Darwin for me. But it is important to remember the men who saved all these magnificent pieces of art. I mean, what remains of ancient man in this world? It is their art…..as primitive as it is. As Clooney’s character so succinctly stated :
You can wipe out an entire generation, you can burn their homes to the ground and somehow they’ll still find their way back. But if you destroy their history, you destroy their achievements and it’s as if they never existed. That’s what Hitler wants and that’s exactly what we are fighting for.
I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this movie. It will not garner any awards or accolades. It will not top any box office lists. But it does tell the tale of a brave group of men and a woman who saw the value in art and wanted to preserve it…..not for themselves, but to honour the generations that preceded them and to pass onto the generations that will follow. A nice little movie to see on a quiet Sunday afternoon and you may just learn something along the way. Give this one a look.
Love Flick xx
Director : George Clooney
Starring : George Clooney, Matt Damon, Cate Blanchett, John Goodman, Bill Murray, Hugh Bonneville, Jean Dujardin, Bob Balaban, Dimitri Leonidas
Running Time : 118 minutes
Release Date : 13 March, 2014