The Monuments Men is a new movie starring George Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman, Bob Balaban, Jean Dujardin, Cate Blanchett, and Hugh Bonneville. Set during the waning days of World War II, it is the story of an unlikely platoon of men tasked with recovering, and restoring, works of art stolen by Hitler’s Nazi regime. Positioning itself as an epic among the likes of Saving Private Ryan, it is nevertheless a tale that takes place in smaller, quiet moments. Going in, we do not know much about the Monuments Men, other than they are scholars, professors, art historians, architects–men who love art. Despite this lack of back story, we learn who they are by what they do.
They characters are revealed by their respective actions. Though they wrestle with it, struggle to come to grips, each believes the mission is one worth dying for. That these monumental works are worth preserving. That by keeping culture alive they are keeping hope alive.
That by preserving history they are safeguarding the future.
Though it is somewhat disjointed at times, with abrupt tonal shifts, this movie brings home the high human cost of war. Not through the horrors of the concentration camp, but rather through small moments (a character hanging a painting in an empty apartment, never to be occupied again by the people who left it).
It is a journey worth taking.
Go see The Monuments Men.