Director: George Clooney
During World War II the Nazis under Hitler’s orders began a systematic looting of the greatest art treasures of Europe to create the Führermuseum. In it would be all the art stolen by the Nazis for Hitler’s private enjoyment. In order to insure that didn’t happen a group of mainly art historians and restorers went with the men into the battle to make sure that during the battle irreplaceable arts and monuments wouldn’t be destroyed. These group of men and women were parts of the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives program aka the Monuments Men.
George Clooney writing a story based loosely upon Robert Edsel’s book Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History, shows how these multinational group of men went with the soldiers into battle to keep monuments and great pieces of art from being destroyed. Which wasn’t always easy as not everyone saw the need to keep art work from being destroyed when they could use the church or museum they were stored at as a base of operations.
But they press on despite the opposition they face and they have some great success too. Especially when Cate Blanchett, playing a french woman forced to work with the Nazis to move the art from France, reveals that she has kept a record of every piece of art that was moved through the area.
Using this list the monuments track the stolen art across Germany. Unfortunately, in doing so they loose some of their men to enemy gunfire. Also it appears that the Russians are also on the hunt for the stolen art not for restoring it to the rightful owners but for their own museums and for the money they can get for the art. So it is a race to find the art. Especially since toward the end of the war Hitler gives the order to burn the art if the Germans are loosing the war.
This is a great story and while a lot of people say that the pacing is slow on this movie I didn’t find that to be so. Also the story of why we still have the art of Vermeer, Renoir, or Raphael is just fascinating. When you see them sifting through the ashes to find remnants of a frame that had a Picasso the horror of never being able to see these great works ever is made evident.
I give this movie five stars out of five.