The Monuments Men
During World War II, the Nazis steal countless pieces of art and hide them away. Some over-the-hill art scholars, historians, architects and other experts form a unit to retrieve as many of the stolen masterpieces as possible. The mission becomes even more urgent when the team learns about Hitler's "Nero Decree," which orders destruction of the artworks if the Third Reich falls. Caught in a race against time, the men risk their lives to protect some of mankind's greatest achievements.
Release Date: February 07, 2014
Runtime: 1 hr 58 min
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MovieReviewMaven.blogspot.com grade = B+
PG-13, 1 hour 52 minutes
In a Nutshell: This lovely movie is based on a true story and I admit that I’m curious to learn more about what really happened as the small group of art experts tried to save priceless pieces of history as the Nazi regime began to fall in WWII Europe. I was in Italy just a few months ago, basking in all of the beautiful artwork and can’t imagine what a terrible loss it would have been to humanity if we didn’t have some of the masterpieces that exist in that country alone.
Based on the non-fiction telling by Robert M. Edsel, the subject matter and setting are fascinating. Unfortunately, the movie falls a bit short of what could have been an outstanding journey worthy of Oscar buzz. The audience I watched the movie with consisted of mostly older people, some who looked like they could have actually fought in WWII.
This brief tour through war-torn Europe was directed, written, and performed by George Clooney. It’s a bit of “Geriatric Band of Brothers” meets “Saving Private Ryan”, although not nearly as realistic or good as the latter. The audience loved the camaraderie among the men and were left wanting a little more out of the star-studded cast which includes Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman, Bob Balaban, Hugh Bonneville and the exquisite Cate Blanchett.
Uplifting theme: What a sobering reminder this film features that Hitler stole lives, art, and even history from all of us. James Granger says “He really wanted it all.” Frank Stokes corrects him “He wanted everything.” Frank Stokes continually reminds his crew that their lives are worth more than a piece of art, and yet they are all willing to sacrifice everything in order to preserve it because it represents mankind’s greatest accomplishments.
I love that the men refer to various works of art as “she” and “her”, granting true life to images that capture our very soul. Frank Stokes narrates the journey and explains that they were fighting for culture, our history, and our very way of life. The works of art are not simply beautiful things to look at and admire, but our history…yours….mine. It was inspiring to learn that over 5 million pieces were recovered through the Monuments Men project.
Things I liked:
• It was refreshing to see a loyal husband resist an invitation of infidelity, especially on a lonely night in romantic Paris. Matt Damon’s character, James Granger, even returned the tie he was given by the hopeful woman.
• The sets and scenery were breathtaking.
• One of the most profound scenes was when (SPOILER ALERT) the group finds a big barrel of gold nuggets and then realizes they were from the mouths of Jews who were killed by the Nazis. The scene carried a sobering weight that other scenes lacked. The audience gasped a few times, which I think, would have made George Clooney proud.
Things I didn’t like:
• It’s a bit slow-moving and disjointed with not nearly enough humor and some missed opportunities to make the film truly wonderful.
• Substitute the last line of the movie with something better like “Come on, I want to show you something else!”
• “Do we get to kill anybody?” – Preston Savitz
• “Speak English” said several people to James Granger whose French was terrible. I’ve been to France and they really do hate it when we Americans attempt to speak their beautiful language.
• James Granger explains “I seem to have stepped on a land mine.” Frank queries “Why would you do that?” repeated by Walter Garfield. James says “It was a slow day.” I thought that scene was well done as they tried to come up with a solution and were prepared for any outcome.
• An American soldier says after the war was announced to be over “Isn’t there supposed to be a parade or something?” to which James Granger gently corrects “Probably not in Germany.”
• While talking about setting up some dynamite, two on the team have the following exchange: “Maybe I should do this.” “What do you know about explosives?” “Nothing.” “Ok.”
• “Who will be their protectors? Who will make sure the Mona Lisa is still smiling?” – Frank Stokes
• “It’s not bad.” “It’s not good” – an exchange as two of the crew look at a canvas of Hitler’s artwork from his failed run as an art student
• “Frank explains his passion about the Monument Men project by saying “If you destroy their achievements, it’s like they never existed.”
• “Great works of art can never belong to one individual.” - Donald Jeffries
Things to learn more about: George Clooney said of this film “It’s so rare to do any story that people don’t know.” I would love to learn more!
• The Ghent altarpiece by Jan van Eyck
• Russia’s Soviet Trophy Brigade
• The Nero Decree stated that if Hitler died, the Nazis were to destroy Germany’s infrastructure, as well as other valuables, including art. Nero was blamed for the fire that destroyed much of Rome. Forty-two days after issuing the Nero Decree, Hitler killed himself, and a week later, Germany surrendered.
• The Madonna of Bruges by Michelangelo
Tips for parents: There is some profanity, but not as much as you would think there would be in a war movie. People are killed and wounded with some blood and gore.February 8th, 2014 · Details2 Thanks ·
The Monuments Men takes you on a journey that is slow to begin with, but ends up being surprisingly engaging. The all-star cast made me think there would be some epic comedy in the movie, but to my surprise, it was a very serious show.
Be prepared for a fair amount of swearing and a few sexual innuendos. However, in these regards, it's much more mild than current PG-13 trends. The show is filled with characters smoking (which may add to the PG-13 rating) but that's very thematic considering the era. It should be noted that this is quite tame on violence for a war themed movie. We see some people get shot but it felt quite mild considering other violence on TV and in movies today.
I knew next to nothing about the story going into the film and now I want to research it more. The story itself is captivating and engaging but as previously alluded, it takes awhile before the movie gets exciting.February 3rd, 2014 · Details2 Thanks ·
Loved the history in this film and the respect shown to those who fought the war. Many of the facts in the film were unknown to me do it was also informative.February 10th, 2014 · Details1 Thank ·
I loved it, this was a very enjoyable movie. I was entertained, moved, educated and laughed trough the film The Monuments Men. The story is one I've never heard before, but defiantly one that needed to be told. The chemistry between the actors is great. It was filmed in the style of old war movies. It's nice to see a war movie more interested in the story rather than explosions, blood and violence. A big thumbs up!February 7th, 2014 · Details1 Thank ·
This was a tough one to decide if it is worth your time or not. I eventually said it was though. Lets start with what was good in the film. The best part of the film was the the story itself. It is an interesting story that I had really no clue that never happened. I like they way the movie was filmed, it felt like a throwback to the old films like the "Great Escape." The cast was was great to but that leads me into what was wrong with the film.
With such a great cast I expected more. I feel like Bill Murray and John Goodman were very under utilized in the film. I wonder if the cast wasn't so great that I wouldn't of had such high expectations for the film. The script I feel was not the greatest either. I feel like the dialogue was cheesy and there wasn't enough character development to care about these men. Clooney has proven he is a great director but one thing he has not proven is that he can star/write and direct a film at the same time. The pacing just seemed a little off in this movie.
Overall though it was worth a watch once but probably don't spend full ticket price for it. The movie does have some swearing in it and a ton of people smoking which is one of the reasons it is rated PG-13.February 7th, 2014 · Details1 Thank ·
Clooney can do better (“Goodnight and Good Luck”) than this script, which feels like a Robert McKee formula special, all the beats and plot points laid out according to the formula. As a result, it works. The sad casualties are balanced with the sentimental pauses (a nice moment when a character gets a recorded message from home is clumsily juxtaposed with a soldier dying on a table in the medical tent) and the bro-banter. But the breadth and brutality of the crimes and the humility and devotion of the heroes cannot help but move us and, I hope, inspire us to treasure the masterworks they saved and the heroes who saved them... See Full Review1 Thank ·
There is something in the director’s touch here that clearly indicates “The Monuments Men” was a labor of love and a fitting tribute to those who risked it all to not only defeat Nazi Germany, but save what Clooney’s character describes as “the foundation of our modern society” and “the story of our lives.”
This is a film well worth seeing... See Full Review1 Thank ·
This movie was very interesting. I have a 12 year old and wouldn't think twice about bringing him to this. Great content and entertaining.February 24th, 2014 · Details
I've seen this movie twice - once with a friend, once with my husband. It's definitely worth watching. It's amazing what these men did to help save art and sculptures, etc. I loved the cast and thought their chemistry was fun. Good movie, though there are a few moments that "pull on your heartstrings."February 21st, 2014 · Details
This movie was very average. Hardly anything exciting happens at all. Bill Murray does make it watchable with his comedy.February 17th, 2014 · Details
A good movie for younger people to help them understand how close we came to losing great works of art during this period of time. I though George Clooney did a great job in portraying this.February 13th, 2014 · Details
This could have been a lovely historical lark, a bunch of grizzled faux soldiers tracking art, outwitting Nazis and occasionally dealing with a blast of tragedy and “what this war is really about” reminders. Clooney, for the first time in his directing career (“Good Night, and Good Luck,” “The Ides of March”) never finds the sweet spot, and never quite wrestled the script into a shape entertaining enough to make the liberties he and Heslov took with the facts worth it... See Full Review
With an estimated 48,000,000 human deaths, World War II was a bloody battle by all accounts. But the immense loss of life was not the only casualty. Watching this team of Monuments Men fight to preserve the cultural identity and peoples’ history is inspiring, and will give adults and teens a different appreciation for the monumental cost of war... See Full Review
THE MONUMENTS MEN shows a different side of World War II and does so in a less cynical way than many war movies. While the movie tries to lighten the tone, it gets stuck between being a comedy and a drama. The mediocre script avoids character depth and pushes its themes using on-the-nose dialogue... See Full Review
The Monuments Men sounds like a what's-not-to-like? movie, but it turns out to be a bizarre failure. It's not just that the film is dull — it's that there's no there there to like. This should have been a historical heist film, but the script, by Clooney and Grant Heslov, leaves out the heist, or anything else of conventionally pleasing intrigue... See Full Review