‘The Monuments Men‘ is a film co-written, directed by and staring George Clooney. It brings to the big screen the little known story of an unlikely World War II ‘Band of Brothers’ on a mission to recover priceless art stolen by the Nazis during the war.
These were a group of scholars, historians, curators and – as my husband would put it “Art snobs” – who understood that war destroyed not only lives, homes, buildings and infrastructure – but the very culture that we were fighting to protect. Clooney plays Frank Stokes (based on the actual Monuments Man George Stout), who pleads a case for saving art as part of saving our collective history. Winning approval for the mission Stokes rounds up his ‘Dream Team’, who are unsurprisingly anything but soldier material. After some very basic training, this rag-tag troop heads for the shores of Normandy.
Here the cinematography becomes the star. Quietly they exit from the troop transport, no artillery echoing through the air. Slogging through the eerily silent sand, they crest the dunes to look down on the massive operations of the Allied invasion force. This was one of just a few moments in this movie that I was truly moved.
That said, for the most part the rest of the move never really draws you in. The Monuments Men co-stars Matt Damon, Cate Blanchett John Goodman, Bill Murray and Bob Balaban I expected it to have some chemistry. It didn’t. I couldn’t figure out what type of movie it was. Was it ‘Ocean’s 11’ set in WWII? Could it be a version of ‘Saving Private Ryan’ with the Bruges Madonna and Child replacing the Private? I just wasn’t sure and trying to figure that out took away from my ability to get lost in the film and feel connected to the characters.
Is it worth the price of a ticket to go watch this movie? Even though I do feel it could have been far better, I’d still have to say yes. It was an enjoyable movie. And let’s be honest here, George Clooney in a WWII uniform… well the swoon factor alone is worth the price of admission.
What this film did give me was a desire to learn more about the true story of the real Monuments Men. Clooney and his co-writer remind us all that those who serve fight for so much more than lines on a map. They struggle to preserve that which makes life itself worth the living, those things both tangible and intangible that us to our humanity and that will hopefully one day help us to put an end to all wars.