~~February 17, 2014~~
The Monuments Men is a 2014 American-German war film directed by George Clooney, written and produced by Clooney and Grant Heslov, and starring Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman, Jean Dujardin, Bob Balaban, Hugh Bonneville, and Cate Blanchett.
Based on the non-fiction book, The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History, by Robert M. Edsel, the film follows an allied group, the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives program, tasked with finding and saving pieces of art and other culturally important items before their destruction by Hitler during World War II.
The film, co-produced by Columbia Pictures (in association with 20th Century Fox) and Babelsberg Studio, was released on February 7, 2014.
During World War II by 1943, the Allies are making good progress driving back the Axis powers such as in Italy. However, Frank Stokes persuades the US President that victory will have little meaning if the art treasures of Western civilization are lost in the fighting, either as collateral damage in combat or looted.
To minimize that threat, Stokes is directed to assemble an Army unit nicknamed the “Monuments Men” comprising seven museum directors, curators, and art historians to both guide Allied units and search for stolen art to return it to the rightful owners.
Jean Claude Clermont
~~FRANK STOKES … PLAYED BY GEORGE CLOONEY~~
In occupied Paris, France, Claire Simone, a curator, is forced to allow Nazi officers like Viktor Stahl oversee the theft of art for either Adolf Hitler‘s proposed Führermuseum in Linz, or as the personal property of senior commanders like Herman Goering.
While she is nearly arrested for helping her Maquis brother unsuccessfully recapture such items, all seems lost when she discovers that Stahl is taking all of her gallery’s contents to Germany as the Allies approach Paris.
As for Stokes’ unit, they find their work is frustrated by their own side’s combat units who refuse to restrict their tactical options for the sake of preserving architecture, while James Granger finds that Simone will not cooperate with those whom she suspects are art looters themselves.
The unit splits up for various objectives with varying degrees of success.
Donald Jeffries of the British Army attempts to arrange the safety of a Belgian church with valuable artwork and is killed attempting to prevent the Nazi Colonel Wegner from stealing a statue of the Madonna and Child by Michelangelo.
~~MADONNA AND CHILD … MICHAELANGELO~~
Richard Campbell and Preston Savitz attempt to track down a stolen Belgian panel set of religious artwork (the Van Eyck altarpiece looted from Ghent cathedral), and in doing so, find and arrest Viktor Stahl, hiding as a farmer, when they identify the paintings in his house as originals stolen from the Rothschild Collection. Walter Garfield and Jean Claude Clermont are caught in a crossfire of a battle and Clermont is mortally wounded.
Meanwhile, Simones reconsiders when Granger shows her the Nero Decree to destroy all German possessions if Hitler dies or Germany falls and when she sees Granger returns a painting looted from a Jewish family murdered in the death camps to its rightful place as a symbolic gesture.
Realizing the Americans are serious in their intentions, she eventually provides a comprehensive ledger that provides valuable information to identify stolen art.
Even as the Men learn that the artwork is being stored in various mines and castles, they also learn that they must now compete against the Soviet Union who have units of their own seizing artwork as war reparations.
Meanwhile, Colonel Wegner is systematically removing and destroying whole art collections as per orders.
Eventually, the Men have some success as they discover at least one mine with not only over 16,000 art pieces as well as grotesque caches as such as barrels of gold teeth from victims of the death camps. In addition, they also discover gold assets of the Nazi German national treasury, whose capture effectively bankrupts the regime.
Finally, they find a German mine that seems destroyed and is in what will be part of the Soviet occupation zone. However, the Men discover that only the entrances were damaged by the locals in order to fool the Nazis and they manage to gain entry even as their fellows delay the oncoming Soviets.
As a result, the Men evacuate as much artwork as possible, including the sculpture Jeffries died defending, before the Soviets arrive.
Interesting to note: “Ronald Balfour, the real-life Monuments Man who died trying to save artworks in WW2, has been written out of the new George Clooney film”.
In the end, Stokes reports to President Truman that they have recovered vast quantities of artwork and various other culturally significant items. As he requests to stay in Europe to oversee further searching and restoration, Truman asks if his efforts were worth it.
Stokes firmly replies it was, and the scene shifts decades later where Stokes takes his grandson to see the Madonna statue, amid large crowds of youth appreciating the pieces of humanity’s creativity that his men sacrificed so much to preserve in war.
The film opens with a scene of Nazi leader Hermann Goering “shopping” in occupied Paris for paintings for his personal collection. In the Smithsonian exhibition, you’ll find evidence of that: a 71-page, U.S. government inventory itemizing what the Monuments Men found among Goering’s (largely stolen) art collection in 1945. The list includes, among more than 1,000 works, several canvases by the Flemish master Peter Paul Rubens.
Also on view is the 1943 field manual drafted to guide the work of the Monuments Men, whose mission evolved from saving significant buildings from being bombed to finding and repatriating millions of pieces of stolen art.
One particularly chilling chapter in that manual concerns not theft but “defilement and contemptuous treatment.”
In case you’re wondering what that means, there’s a scene in the movie showing a heap of incinerated picture frames — including one labeled “Picasso” — left behind by Nazis fleeing Allied troops. Yes, Hitler may have wanted Europe’s masterpieces to stock his never-realized “Fuhrer Museum,” but the fear that his henchmen would destroy their loot rather than relinquish it was very real. It was a case of “if I can’t have it, no one will,” says Smithsonian archivist Barbara Aikens, who helped organize the show.
Other true-life tidbits that made their way into the film include the discovery — documented in the exhibition — that the Nazis had hidden a large cache of art in a salt mine in the Austrian town of Altaussee.
According to the papers of James Rorimer (the real-life curator from New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art who is played by Matt Damon, under the name James Granger), the mine’s temperature and humidity were surprisingly conducive to art storage, suggesting that the Nazis had at least some appreciation, however perverse, for art.
The project was presented to the US defense committee by Professor Frank Stokes (George Clooney), in which he convinced them of its importance. The Committee in turn entrusted this task onto Stokes and for him to find a team qualified to complete this mission. He chose museum directors, curators, and art historians, such as, James Granger (Matt Damon), an artist, Sgt. Richard Campbell (Bill Murray), an architect, Sgt. Walter Garfield (John Goodman), a sculptor, Pvt. Preston Savitz (Bob Balaban), a play director, Major Donald Jeffries (Hugh Bonneville), a British artist, Lt. Jean Claude Clermont (Jean Dujardin), a Frenchman, and Sam Epstein (Dimitri Leonidas), an American soldier who was born in Germany.
With this team of eight soldiers they research and try to locate where the Nazi Germans will be taking the stolen treasures.
Their objective is to locate a specific set of art which includes the Madonna and Child Statute located at a church in Belgium, the Gent Alter Piece originally located in a church in Italy, one of the largest treasures of the Catholic Church, and many other famous artworks. Their journey will bring them all over Europe and eventually they need to meet up with Claire Simone (Cate Blanchett), the curator of a French museum, who will help them locate some of the largest collections of art that were stolen.
~~Ghent Altarpiece — also called Adoration of the Mystic Lamb~~
~~ACTUAL PICTURES OF THE MONUMENTS MEN~~
The Monuments Men Official Trailer
Published on Jan 5, 2014
Published on Dec 4, 2013
Historians unite to recover works of art stolen by nazis!
In a race against time, a crew of art historians and museum curators unite to recover renowned works of art stolen by Nazis before Hitler destroys them.
The Monuments Men starring George Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, Jean Dujardin and Cate Blanchett!
We ALL are connected through HISTORY and ART!!
We ALL are ONE!!