Monuments Men – *(*)

Posted: March 23, 2015 in 2014, Drama, Historical, USA, War, X1/2

It’s kind of weird to watch an American movie that starts in Ghent with a dialogue in Flemish spoken phonetically by American extras. The scene is supposed to be set in the St Bavo Cathedral and sees some pastors take apart the Ghent Altarpiece  to save it from theft by the Nazis in the Second World War.

It’s the start of a historical movie about a bunch of art lovers/historians/curators who come to Europe by the end of the Second World War to prevent the Germans (and allied forces) from destroying important art. And to bring back certain pieces that the Nazis stole from the occupied countries. Amongst which the famous Altarpiece and another Flemish art relic: Da Vinci’s Madonna with Child, which was stolen from the Church of Our Lady in Bruges.

Great premise and a stellar cast, but ultimately a total bore. Yes, the story of the Monuments Men needed to be told. But someone should have told director Clooney a few things before filming.

a) Do not tell the story of a bunch of men trying to find all kinds of art in all kinds of places. Just focus on ONE thing.

b) Do not star in your own movie. You are not that good an actor.

c) Do not ask your friends to star in your movies. It looks too much like a bunch of guys acting out a story and having a good time once the camera’s stop rolling.

d) Do not make this movie all about America! (especially if you tend to love the image of the un-american celebrity)

By the end of the movie, the main character gets confronted with the question if saving some pieces of art is worth the death of certain men. It’s a controversial and confronting question to which the answer should be a hesitant yes! However, after watching this poor attempt to raise awareness about the loss of art during times of war (just think about what’s going on in Syria right now), you kind of feel untouched by it all. And that couldn’t have possibly be the intention of Clooney.

That said, tomorrow I’m visiting the Abbey of Cluny in Burgundy. It’s been ransacked through the centuries and only impressive if you use your imagination. Most of its art has been stolen/destroyed/damaged and yet visitors come see it every day. Maybe art isn’t supposed to last forever.


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