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The Monuments Men ~ Film Review

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The Monuments Men ~ Film Review

Post by Mazy on Sun 18 May 2014, 03:52

The Monuments Men ~ Film Review
May. 10 Lifestyle contributor, Out and about, The Big Screen 4 comments

The Monuments Men is a film that seems to have attracted a mixed bag of reviews, many bemoaning the lack of action and criticising the humorous one-liners as taking away from the serious message of the story and the sacrifice made by the characters depicted. I’m not sure I agree. The Monuments Men, written and directed by George Clooney (who strives to make films around issues he cares about), is based on the book by best-selling non-fiction author, Robert M. Edsel, and therein perhaps is a clue about why the director didn’t build in dramatic scenes for entertainment’s sake. The film is attempting to tell the true-life story of men and women serving in the Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives section (MFAA) of the Western Allied forces, tasked with the mission of saving the world’s greatest treasures from destruction. The men portrayed were ordinary people, connoisseurs, architects, curators, and sculptors, risking their lives to save great works of art, thus preserving the heritage and culture of Europe for the enjoyment of future generations.

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Personally, I would like to have related to the characters a little more. Perhaps the black and white stills of the ‘real’ heroes, often shown in true-life stories at the credits, could have been shown up-front. The film has been further criticised for its slow-moving exposition and, for my own tastes, the character backstory could have been better fleshed out, allowing us to empathise more easily with the individuals. However, did we really expect a film starring George Clooney and Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman… not to have elements of humour? Further, would men brought together under such circumstances not banter, employing humour as a coping mechanism and an expression of camaraderie? Hugh Bonneville out of his straight-laced Downton role was utterly refreshing and easy to relate to. Cate Blanchett, (playing Claire Simone, presumably based on real-life heroine Rose Valland) was believable, as was Matt Damon (playing James Granger) turning down her offer of a Parisian ‘after-dinner cognac.’ He was supposed to be an honourable man, someone she could trust implicitly. Wouldn’t his honour have been somewhat tarnished in her eyes if he’d taken up her offer?

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Overall, I thought this was an honest film, told as authentically as it could be, whilst delivering the entertainment value. I was entertained. I enjoyed the film. What’s more, I was educated, learning more about a part of history often overlooked, Adolph Hitler’s attempt to gather priceless paintings and sculptures to fill up his vision of a museum, “The Führermuseum”, showcasing “Aryan-approved” art.The Monuments Men is testament to a brave group of people who uncovered tens of thousands of those pieces of art, some of them paying the price with their lives.

If the critical debate rages on maybe that’s no bad thing, encouraging people to look at art through new eyes whilst browsing museums, cultural centres or churches, to wonder more about its origins, its journey and the history surrounding it; to ponder the tragedy of the destruction of culture.

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Were the actors’ portrayals of the characters as true to life as they could be?

My view: See it and judge for yourself.
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Achieving total Clooney-dom

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