Many people are familiar with Adolf Hitler’s quest to collect/steal/destroy much of the great art scattered across Europe while in power. Stories abound of book burning and attempting to rid the world of certain artists and styles of expression. What history tends to skip over most often is those charged with finding and returning the art to their rightful owners. After an Oscar-qualifying release date was forfeited to complete the film according to its creators’ standards, “The Monuments Men” aims to shed some light on those men and women.
George Clooney wears many hats as director, co-writer, producer, and actor in this film about a group of scholarly men who are recruited to help find and preserve famous art during World War II. With help from an English soldier (Hugh Bonneville), an architect (Bill Murray), a sculptor (John Goodman), a Frenchman (Jean Dujardin), and more, his small unit ventures across the crumbling German Empire for stolen art.
Clooney and co-producer/friend Grant Heslov have once again crafted well-rounded drama. Mixing history, light humor, and war make for a picture that much to offer. Though the film is rich is culture and backstory, it does become a bit laborious in shortly before the climax. The cast more than makes up for the exhaustive script that feels almost 20 minutes too extended. Despite this, the film is still an interesting and ultimately enjoyable peak into the journey of a small cadre of men. Having not bowing in an already crowded award season, “The Monuments Men” gets a chance to reach a wider audience ripe for something of substance in what is historically a bland time of year for film. 3 out of 5 stars.
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