Reviewed by: John Decker
Adolf Hitler wanted to gain ownership of art in order to place it in the Third Reich’s museums—ones that already existed, and then in the Führermuseum that he planned on building in his hometown of Linz, Austria. Why did he want art that was from all over Europe? Why did he think that appropriating art from other people and countries would glorify the Third Reich?
Hitler applied to the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts twice, and was rejected both times. Students who were accepted included Jews who painted in styles he vehemently opposed. Some of the Academy’s admission committee judges were Jewish. Do you think these factors contributed to both Hitler’s anti-Semitism as well as his seizure of art that he would then display at his Fuehrer Museum in Linz? Why or why not?
Is art worth a life?
Which of these four do you most agree?
a. Fighting for art is worth risking one’s life.
b. I’d fight for art if I had to.
c. I’d fight passionately for other things, but not for art. Art is important—but it’s not worth risking a life.
d. No lofty idea is ever as important as a human life.
Debate these four positions.
What qualities did the Monuments Men demonstrate that made them heroes?
Why are works of art or monuments meaningful to the countries they are created in? In what ways does art belong to a country or culture? What are the moral repercussions of stealing art or destroying monuments?
While the Nazis stole objects that held high financial and/or artistic value, they also seized items that held only personal, family or cultural value. Was this just another way to degrade Jews and an effort to destroy their culture?
|Featuring:||George Clooney … Frank Stokes
Matt Damon … James Granger
Bill Murray … Richard Campbell
Cate Blanchett … Claire Simone
John Goodman … Walter Garfield
Jean Dujardin … Jean Claude Clermont
Hugh Bonneville … Donald Jeffries
|Producer:||Fox 2000 Pictures
|Distributor:||Columbia Pictures, Sony Pictures|
“The Nazis pulled off the greatest art heist in history. These guys are stealing it back.”
For most people, “The Monuments Men” contains a cast of at least five highly familiar faces. It is a story about a platoon tasked with recovering art which was taken by Hitler’s socialist regime.
The worldviews expressed through story in “The Monuments Men” will not be found morally objectionable to a conservative audience. The enthusiasm to save artwork from destruction by Hitler’s regime is balanced immediately with statements that life is more important than art. Eventually we may find ourselves persuaded that saving art is worth risking lives. This is not so different from risking lives entering space or inventing, or dedicating our time to the preservation of things men before us have worked for. It would be easy to be suspicious in this age of subjectivism coupled with frequent emphasis on symbolism that a story about saving art during such a horrific time as WWII would place its value above life, but that is not the case here and for that I tip my hat to director, writer and actor George Clooney.
There is the temptation of an affair in this movie. Nothing sexual happens, and there is almost nothing remotely sexual in this film, save some classical nude paintings and nude statues which are not highly emphasized by the camera. However, an inappropriate situation is created when a man attends a lady’s house, putting himself in temptation’s way. Certainly, within the story, there is good reason for him to be there—would we expect any less? His fidelity is honorable in the end. That does not change the nuances of story and the lingering contemplative of a potential affair.
My opinions: I found this movie lightly entertaining, mostly clean, unexciting and inadequately engaging. This treatment of the story is just way too mellow for my liking. For that matter, the sad aspects are not sad enough. This is compounded by a soundtrack which creates awkward moments which detracts from the emotional landscape rather than adding to it. I am not sorry that I paid a late night price to see “The Monuments Men,” but I might have been, had I seen it at prime time, in a newer theater. I would rent it, but not around nap time.
There are a couple of moving emotional moments, but I believe I created them myself, out of my own appreciation for what the movie was attempting to create or should have created. This film did not give the story it was based on enough credit. The scenarios are potentially engaging, but the drama is constricted, and the personalities of Bill Murray and George Clooney have a lot more to offer than they gave us.
I would like to say that families can benefit from the enrichment of seeing this story come to life, but it doesn’t do it justice. Matt Damon’s character was one of the more engaging, but it fell asleep as well. This movie is a sleepy, long-shot version of a potentially exciting story, worth seeing on a rainy afternoon.
Smoke, smoke, smoke. Nearly everybody smoked back then, right? Well, that’s true among some groups. I don’t have a hard time believing that art curators and soldiers were among them. This is historically accurate and subtly humorous in what I’m guessing is an ‘accidentally on purpose’ sort of way—because there is an incredible amount of cigarette smoking in this movie. There is a presence of alcohol as well, though not a lot—and there is no drunkenness.
The violence in this movie is very sedate. There is some shooting, but very little heart racing. At least twice, we see someone receive a bullet wound that results in death. The views are not graphic. They are more along the lines of dramatic scenes, meant to portray some of the heroism, and some of the sadness of the situations.
The Lord’s name is used as profanity, as in G*d-d***, and Jesus is used as an expletive several times. Surprisingly, this actually makes up the majority of profane language—there is little more.
It was rated PG-13 for images of war violence and smoking. My guess is it was more the later than the former. There isn’t much violence in it.
Violence: Moderate to heavy / Profanity: Moderate—“G*d-d*mn” (6), “Jesus Christ” (2), “Jesus” (2), “Oh G*d” (1), “God” (1), “hell” (11), “damn” (2), s-words (6), SOB (1) / Sex/Nudity: Moderate
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.