Steen: Americans take the credit saving masterpieces

There were many men and women from a variety of countries…involved with finding and returning these stolen works of art.

The Monuments Men

Based on a true story, it is an unlikely band of men who were tasked by Franklin Delano Roosevelt to retrieve and repatriate, when possible, valuable works of art back to their owners after the Nazis stole them from churches, synagogues and the private collections of the Jewish families who they had incarcerated in various concentration camps.

The total amount came to some five million pieces of art that were actually recovered, as well as three million books and 100 tons of German bullion, priceless tapestries, statues and more.

As Hitler tried to take away the very culture of the towns and countries that he invaded, his downfall was that he tried to take something that could never be his—the history and the culture of a people.

The Monuments Men and others tried to make right this terrible affront to those who had lost everything.

The screenplay was written by George Clooney, who also directed and acted in the film as Frank Stokes.

Included in the movie are some other heavy hitters—Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman, Cate Blanchett and Hugh Benneville (who we all know as Lord of Downton Abbey, Earl Grantham.)

I enjoyed this one, although truth be told, there were many men and women from a variety of countries, not only the U.S., involved with finding and returning these stolen works of art. Today there is a Monuments Men Foundation for the preservation of art.

The original men and women involved helped to build great cultural and educational facilities and there are many who are are still looking for pieces which are still missing.

One of my favourite items is in the information about the film, which is rated PG-13 due to images of war violence and scenes with “historical smoking”—an odd phraseology, don’t you think?

The Monuments Men gives us another look into the horrors of war without that aspect becoming the whole show. We know what happened and we know it was terrible, but the dedication to risk their lives to find and save great treasures from ruin and eradication is one of the little known stories of the war and it’s one that should be told.

There are big name actors in this movie, but that doesn’t get in the way of the story; it is an ensemble of people who have a goal and I think it was well done, with a few funny moments as well as some very poignant ones.

I give The Monuments Men four reels. Enjoy and look up the Foundation for more on the story.

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