We live in a throw away society, a world where everything is expendable and ready to be tossed aside once we've finished with it. Kids today seem only interested in themselves and what's going on in the present, never caring what happened before they were born. The saddest part of this is the fact that in being this way they never expose themselves to some of the greatest things in the world, everything from classic novels to pieces of art that have survived centuries. With any luck a few of them will watch THE MONUMENTS MEN and consider doing so.
George Clooney stars as Frank Stokes, a military officer in World War II who presents a case to President Roosevelt about the famous works found in museums in Europe. In this presentation he shows Roosevelt famous pieces of art that have gone missing, supposedly taken by Hitler to be put on display when he wins the war in a specially built structure. That is if he doesn't damage them first or if the allies don't damage them while fighting battles from one town to the next. Stokes request is that a special select group of men work to save these pieces of art before they are all destroyed. Given the go ahead, he assembles his team.
The team is small. There aren't that many people qualified or willing to be a part. Each has their own role to play in helping with this seemingly impossible task. Included in the group are James Granger (Matt Damon), Richard Campbell (Bill Murray), Walter Garfield (John Goodman), Jean Claude Clermont (Jean Dujardin), Preston Savitz (Bob Balaban) and Donald Jeffries (Hugh Bonneville). These are the Monuments men, the elite group that sets out to fulfill the task Stokes has set forth. Granger is sent undercover to find out as much information as he can concerning the whereabouts of artwork stolen in France. The rest are split into teams and sent searching for other various artifacts.
Using various methods they accumulate enough knowledge that they discover a pattern used in the transport of these works of art. It appears that each location on the map they point out with the clues presented there are underground mines where the art has been stored, at least in part. As the troops move forward, the team accompanies them in an attempt to fulfill their mission. Placing their lives in danger, not all will come home, but each will play his part in this truly historic mission.
This gives you the basic idea of what the movie is about. What it doesn't do is show the admiration these men had for not just the task at hand but the items they were sent to save. While some might find a Rembrandt of a museum quality piece of artwork in a foreign church boring, these men look upon each with reverence and respect. The military might see their job as unworthy of their efforts but a twist results in them finding more than they bargained for.
Based on the true story of this team the movie offers it all. There is plenty of camaraderie among the team, an affection that develops between them as they move forward. There is the awe that each one inspires with the items they find. There is humor in various moments where things can be light hearted. And there is tragedy as some fall to the enemy.
What makes this movie important though is to consider what it was they actually accomplished. To think that some of these pieces might have disappeared (which some actually did) makes their story one of success where few thought it could happen. That they were able to rescue as much as they did is an amazing feat and one that should be lauded. I found it amazing that it took this long for their story to be told.
The movie offers not just great entertainment but a piece of history that all should be made aware of. It's a film that young people should see to realize that there was a world out there before they were born and that many things they take for granted could simply have not been there if not for the efforts of people like this. Ipads, Ipods and Facebook are all great things but not near as great as what these people saved. It would be nice to know that at least a few people in the world appreciate the work that they did. Hopefully young people will find enough interest to watch this movie and feel a bit of that.
Click here to order.