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The Monuments Men

(Columbia Pictures)

Movie

The Monuments Men

Based on its trailer, its title, and its seriously A-list cast (George Clooney, Matt Damon, and Cate Blanchett are only a few of the big names here), The Monuments Men might not be quite the movie audiences were expecting. Certainly the film’s tagline—the greatest art heist in history—implies something akin to an Indiana Jones adventure where the U.S. military recruits a small team of architects, museum curators, and sculptors to steal the world’s greatest masterpieces back from the Nazis.

Yet Clooney, who both stars and directs, does something less expected with the true story based on Robert Edsel’s book of the same name. He uses it as a quiet, yet eminently witty and entertaining meditation on Western culture and the value of art, particularly Christian art.

“We’re fighting for our way of life,” art historian Frank Stokes (Clooney) explains to an incredulous commanding officer who can’t understand why the army should risk men and resources for the sake of a hunk of stone. Michelangelo’s Madonna of Bruges is more than a thing of a beauty, Stokes insists, it is a representation of our values and our faith. If the MFAA (Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives unit) fails to retrieve it, then Hitler, though he loses the war, will still have achieved a significant victory against liberty. 

What may surprise viewers most about the film (rated PG-13 for language, most of which involves the Lord’s name) is its unabashedly patriotic tone. The notoriously left-leaning Clooney has often been a critic of American military action, and suggested with previous films like Syriana that the war on terror is motivated by greed for oil.

It’s ironic then that he doesn’t make any connection between the fascists of 1945 who tried to rob the world of great art and the fascists of the 21st century who would destroy it entirely. Yet the next time audiences see headlines about the Muslim Brotherhood vandalizing cathedrals or al-Qaeda destroying centuries-old statues, they may remember The Monuments Men and why protecting our art, as Frank Stokes puts it, means protecting “the very foundations of our society.”

Comments

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  • gruttus
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 03:48 pm

    I was struck rather with a slightly different irony.  George Clooney, as mentioned being "notoriously left-leaning," while arguing so passionately for the protection of things that "represent our values and faith," for the protection of "the very foundations of our society," is completely oblivious to another form of fascism, which he undoubtedly supports. I'm referring to a widespread, powerful, well-funded, movement, which is supported by academia, by the media and by most of the political establishment, that is currently callously causing far more harm to our religious roots, our society and mankind in general: the politically correct crusade of the gay-lesbian movement.  Where are the warm fuzzies for those who are offended, threatened and attacked by that?

  • Janet B
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 03:48 pm

    The irony is delightful, isn't it?

  • overdue
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 03:48 pm

    (rated PG-13 for language, most of which involves the Lord's name)-an excellent reason to not see it.

  • Laneygirl
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 03:48 pm

    Would someone who was an adult in 1945 please verify for us whether the name of the Lord was used profusely as a swear word back then? One of my biggest beefs with the sad little rip off of E.T. "Super 8" set in the 70s was the constant vain use of Jesus' name by the junior high characters. That's not how it was when I was in school, not even in "progressive" New York.

  • WORLD User 94453
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 03:48 pm

    Sorry, but I can't get excited about this movie, even if it is patriotic.  I love art & literature that is edifying and God-honoring.  But in comparison to the worldwide horror that WWII was, with genocide and tyranny in the balance, this story is not compelling to me.  Sounds like a typical Hollywood storyline.......Focusing on "stuff", rather than the real fight of good vs evil.  Besides, ever since George Clooney made those hateful mean-spirited remarks years ago about Charlton Heston regarding his Alzheimer's condition, I'm just not interested in seeing his movies.  I don't mind his being open about his far-Left liberalism.  But if memory serves, Clooney has never given a genuine public apology regarding his remarks about Heston.