In World War II, Adolf Hitler not only wanted to conquer the land, but the people as well. He took everything from the Jews, melting down their jewelry and even gold fillings to make gold bars. He also took art from all of the conquered nations. He was planning on taking all of the world’s greatest pieces of art and putting them in his own “Fuhrer Museum” in his Austrian hometown. If Hitler were to be killed or the Third Reich were to fall, then every Michelangelo, Picasso, was to be burned or destroyed. Beyond this, in the midst of battle, the US military would take out churches, bridges, and other architectural feats. In order to save the culture of the people under siege, Frank Stokes (George Clooney) gathered a team (Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman, Hugh Bonneville, Jean Dujardin, Bob Bablan, Dimitri Leonidas) under President Roosevelt’s orders to find the stolen art and try to preserve what hadn’t yet been blown to bits.
Stokes and his team often split up, dividing and conquering across war torn Europe. Because of the scattered characters, this often feels like many smaller stories being told in one movie, but in the end, everything comes together. This gives the film a different feel than most, but is done extremely well.
Clooney not only starred in The Monuments Men, but also co-wrote, produced, and directed the film, and does a brilliant job on all counts. The film is very powerful, giving you the weight of what is at stake and the price the Men will pay many times, but sticks to a lighter tone for most of the film, with some hilarious moments from Murray, Goodman, Bablan, Damon, and Clooney.
The Monuments Men is the kind of film that sticks with you. It tells of how important culture and art and the little things in life are. While human life was always the priority in WWII, these men risked their lives to save pieces of paper and paint and marble. Why? If I may quote Dead Poets Society for a moment,
“Medicine, law, business, engineering; these are noble pursuits, and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love; these are what we stay alive for.”
The Monuments Men is funny, heart-breaking, thrilling, and engaging for all two hours. It is the best film of 2014 so far (then again, I haven’t made it to The Lego Movie yet).The Monuments Men