Cowriter and director George Clooney adapts author Robert M. Edsel’s book The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History to tell the incredible true story of the seven art historians and museum curators who went behind enemy lines during World War II on a mission to recover some of the world’s greatest works of art. As the Third Reich begins to topple, the German army receives explicit orders to destroy every work of art in their possession. Determined to prevent 1000 years of culture from going up in flames, American president Franklin D. Roosevelt assembles an unlikely task force comprised entirely of art experts to enter Germany, recover the works of art, and ensure they are returned to their rightful owners. With little knowledge of modern weapons or warfare tactics, the ragtag squadron successfully makes their way into enemy territory before realizing they’ve got their work cut out for them. (synopsis via fandango.com)
Its admittedly impressive A-list cast aside, what has me most excited about The Monuments Men is its thrillingly epic based-on-a-true-story narrative that sees an international team of art historians and curators in a desperate race against time to secure centuries of grand artistic heritage against the ravages and vicissitudes of war.
World War Two was a destructive war on a number of tragic levels, most notably the loss of human life on an unprecedented and systematically executed scale, with Europe facing the loss of not only tens of millions of people but much of the rich, artistic legacy that had made it the birthplace of Western civilisation.
So President Franklin Delano Rooselvelt tasked the approximately 400 members of the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives program with achieving a hitherto uncontemplated goal – to save the cultural monuments of a country at the same time as it was fighting a war within it.
It wasn’t easy, with the small teams assigned to the task working on the front lines besides the advancing US army with little to no resources to save as many of the art that had either been stolen or hidden for safekeeping as possible.
It’s a engrossing tale no matter how you tell it, and it looks like The Monuments Men, at least based on the trailer and the five clips below has a good shot of telling it well and in a way that honours the members of the MFAA, whose heroic work was profiled in the book upon which the film is based, The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History by Robert M. Edsel.
The Monuments Men opens 7 February 2014 in USA and 13 March 2014 in Australia.