In previous World War II films, the main theme that has been documented is the human cost of war. George Clooney’s “The Monuments Men,” aims to tell the story of the heroes that helped save some of the world’s greatest artistic treasures. This is Clooney’s fifth turn as the director of a film, and while the film isn’t really monumental, it’s still very entertaining. “The Monuments Men” contains a unique storyline that is very different from most World War II films. Along with a star-studded cast, the film should have been a surefire box office hit, however, judging by the $22 million opening, many Americans don’t seem to share that opinion. Some viewers might have found the lack of drama in the film intolerable, a plausible reason for its failure to appeal to the public. However, I might be in the minority, because I found the film enjoyable and worth seeing.
Based on a true story, this film follows a band of museum curators and art collectors to Europe after D-Day, where they recover treasures that have been stolen by the Nazis. Hitler has issued an order that the treasures captured by the Nazis must be destroyed if he dies or Germany falls. As a result of the decree, there is a race to save many of the world’s artistic masterpieces.
The Monuments Men commander is Frank Stokes, played by Clooney, who is a charming and compassionate art lover who convinces President Roosevelt to approve the mission despite opposition from top military commanders. At his command are the curators and collectors played by some of Hollywood’s elder statesmen. Included are Matt Damon as an art restorer, Bill Murray as a Chicago architect, John Goodman as a sculptor, Bob Balaban as a theater impresario, Hugh Bonneville as a British museum head, and Jean Dujardin as a French painting instructor. Another plot in the film features Cate Blanchett, playing a French assistant museum curator who knows where much of the stolen art is, but is reluctant to reveal the location to Damon. A small part of the film is dedicated to Damon’s mission to convince her to change her mind.
While saving thousands of cultural treasures may not be as important as saving lives, the passion for saving art for future generations is celebrated in the film. The movie is filled with several action scenes that impress and the all-star cast provides a much needed comedic atmosphere to the war film. Some issues with the film I had were scenes that could have ended much sooner but just kept dragging on. Also, there were several key scenes that didn’t feel as lively as they should have been. Scenes that were meant to stand out didn’t. Finally, “The Monuments Men” is filled with little plot-related drama. Despite the problems with Clooney’s “The Monuments Men” and its sluggish nature, at times it’s still an entertaining film about unsung heroes who prevented the destruction of some of the world’s greatest artistic treasures.