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‘The Monuments Men’ saving history for all time

The Monuments Men


What are the great works of art worth? What are they compared with the lives of men fighting to save the world from the ravages of Hitler’s Germany? “The Monuments Men” is based on the true story of how a group of men (former curators) went on a mission to save some of the greatest pieces of art from Hitler. George Clooney, Frank Stokes, enlists the help of art experts, James Granger, Matt Damon, Richard Campbell, Bill Murray, Walter Garfield, John Goodman, Jean Claude Clermont, Jean Dujardin, Donald Jeffries, Hugh Bonneville, Preston Savitz, Bob Babalan, and Sam Epstein, Dimitri Leonidas. Claire Simone, Cate Blanchette works for a French museum which has been taken over by the Nazi’s, yet her role is pivotal in getting many of the art pieces back, however it is James Granger’s role to convince her that his intentions are honorable. This question is valid, since so many works of art have been stolen or merely been assessed as the spoils of war.
While the story is based on actual events, it is the small moments in the film which highlight how this band of misfit soldiers bond, not just as men on a mission to regain precious artworks, but as human beings.
The one piece of work which symbolizes this most clearly is Michaelangelo’s Bruges Madonna. In Clooney’s narration he says upon seeing it that the expression on the Madonna’s face was as one who knew what would befall her son. Perhaps here, the appropriate analogy is that the sacrifice of the son for all of humanity was akin to what would happen to all of civilization if these works of art were allowed to be destroyed, stolen or lost. This is important to note because when Hitler issued his famous Nero Decree he said that if he were to die that all the items in his possession, would be annihilated. This moment circles us back to the beginning question, which is whether works of art are more important than the lives that are lost in war. This is not an easy question to ask, or answer, yet maybe the further question should be, what would the price for humanity be?
“The Monuments Men” is a thought provoking film not just for the questions that it asks, but more importantly for those it does not.

The Real Monuments Men in action