The Monuments Men: A Cheerful War Movie

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Don’t get me wrong.  War is horrible.  Good people die needlessly, countries are left in ruins, evil people do horrid things.  The Monuments Men (2014 PG-13) has all that.  But the audience feels hopeful goodwill towards the characters in this movie.  There is no overriding sense of death as in The Book Thief (2013), or sense of horror over man’s inhumanity as in The Boy in the Striped Pajamas (2008), or the devastation in the trenches of battle as in Saving Private Ryan (1998).  You leave the theater feeling, well, cheerful.

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Based on the book of the same name by Robert M. Edsel, The Monuments Men follows a small team of aging art specialist tasked with protecting great works of art in Europe towards the end of World War 2.  Protect them from what, you may ask.  Allied bombs and advancing American tanks all wreck havoc on paintings and statues in ancient buildings.  Nazi’s have stolen art from the homes of Jewish families.  Hitler wants a huge art museum with all the greatest artworks of Europe.  Churches are looted at gunpoint of their statues and paintings.

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The team played by George Clooney (who also directed), Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman, Bob Balaban and young translator Dimitri Leonidas do a great job portraying the challenges they face.  Cate Blanchett is the French woman with inside information she may or may not be willing to share.

Matt Damon;Cate Blanchett

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I recently read The Girl You Left Behind, a novel by Jojo Moyes. It takes a painting, titled The Girl You Left Behind, and reveals the story of how it started in France during World War 1 and ended up in England today. There weren’t Nazis in WWI, but even then Germans helped themselves to art in occupied France. Wonderful book!

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Good movie about a forgotten part of history!

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