Sunday, June 15, 2014

Movie Review: The Monuments Men (2014)

You might have noticed on this blog that I am fascinated by the history of art stolen by the Nazis during World War II from various museums and also the private collectors (often Jewish). The Rape of Europa is the great documentary about Hitler's great plan for a Linz art museum in his name honoring all the great art he desired, the Nazi disgust for certain art they considered degenerate because non-Aryan, efforts to protect and preserve the art in the midst of war, and efforts to return art stolen from individuals to their heirs, etc.
So I bought a DVD of The Monuments Men: a mistake. Whatever good intentions George Clooney, director, writer, and producer and his co-writer and co-producer Grant Heslov had, they made a terrible movie, episodic and sentimental, illogical and historically inaccurate.
What they did with the character of Claire Simon, based on the real-life Rose Valland, was most disappointing. At first resistant to helping the American museum curator sent to contact her, she then tries to seduce him even as she gives him the detailed notes she made about works stolen from private collections (The Rothschilds, etc). It is the most cynical, cold, calculated attempt of seduction, coming in the context of her mockery of the unfaithfulness of American soldiers to their wives. Matt Damon's character has no trouble rejecting it, although he tries to let her down easy in some trite way.
It's too bad that Clooney thought he had to make The Monuments Men into "Ocean's Fourteen"--with buddy movie jokes about mines and tooth decay in the midst of war, death, atrocities, and mayhem. It was horribly disappointing: I'd recommend the documentary and the books about the real "Monument Men" instead. If seeing the movie does lead viewers to those resources, it will have accomplished something good.

1 comment:

  1. Film allows us to explore the complexities of the human situation. Sometimes that exploration takes place in the dramatic but sometimes it happens to be funny.