By Ashley Han,
Director George Clooney’s newest movie, The Monuments Men, is based on a true story and a book written by Robert Edsel and Bret Witter. This movie is about seven men who enter World War II, not for combat, but to retrieve historic masterpieces stolen by the Nazis before it is destroyed forever.
Frank Stokes (Clooney) is a New York art historian who gathers a group of architects, museum directors, curators and artists to help identity and save famous artwork. These men are obviously unfit to enter the war, but Stokes is able to persuade President Franklin D. Roosevelt that eliminating a thousand years of artwork can be equally (if not more) damaging than murdering an entire generation, “it’s as if they never existed.”
That is when Richard Campbell (Bill Murray), Preston Savitz (Bob Balaban), Walter Garfield (John Goodman), Jean-Claude Clermont (Jean Dujardin), Sam Epstein (Dimitri Leonidas) and James Granger (Matt Damon) begin their search for artwork such as Michelangelo’s Madonna of Bruges and Ghent altarpiece with the help of Clare Simone (Cate Blanchett), a French spy.
These older, well-known actors played humorous and charming characters who supported each other through achievements and death. There were several amusing scenes despite the seriousness of the mission, and the men’s passion for art was inspiring.
Clooney’s presentation to FDR, in the beginning of the movie, with a slideshow of artwork reminded me of art history teacher Douglas Wrights’ daily lectures. Both Clooney and Wright express genuine eagerness and interest in the subject.
Although Clooney looks as if he has aged considerably from “Gravity” with Sandra Bullock, the fact that he did not die within first 30 minutes of the movie was a relief. Unfortunately, as stated in the book, not all of the Monuments Men survive to see the effects of their valiant acomplishment.
The 1940s war setting was similar to “Captain America” without the handsome Chris Evens and romanticized love story with Peggy Atwell. Instead, Damon remained a faithful married man while being mildly seduced by Blanchett in France; they shared a PG relationship, simply exchanging a neck tie.
Clooney creatively chiseled an American accomplishment that may not be as appreciated or well known. The movie ended mentioning that probably thousands of people shuffle through the Louvre in Paris or other museums, 30 years from 1944, unaware that if it was not for the Monuments Men, many European paintings and sculptures would be burned and demolished by the Third Reich. It is because of these men risked their lives to save art, European culture is persevered and shared to the entire world today.
The Monuments Men plays in theaters on Feb. 7 at Regal Davis Stadium 5.