The Monuments Men
starring Matt Damon, George Clooney, Bill Murray, John Goodman, Jean Dujardin, Bob Balaban, Hugh Bonneville, Dimitri Leonidas and Cate Blanchet
screenplay by George Clooney and Grant Heslov
directed by George Clooney
Based on the book by Robert M. Edsel (with Bret Witter) and called “The Michelangelo Project” in Japan, The Monuments Men is a story of a U.S. army unit dedicated to tracking down lost and stolen Nazi are in the closing day of WWII, much of it stolen Jewish art. Returning stolen art is an ongoing story. It was a slow-paced movie. Rumors and legends of as-yet unaccounted for stolen Nazi art and hidden treasure abound, and this film could have told a more interesting story. I thought it was a little dull even though I knew it was based on real events. The ensemble cast was bursting with talent, but I felt something was lacking or weak somewhere.
It does make one think about the need to at least try to preserve cultural assets in the midst of a terribly destructive conflict - a chronic problem especially in the Mideast today where ISIS and the Taliban delight in destroying pre-Islamic or non-Islamic artifacts. There are also competing priorities to ponder: win the conflict while simultaneously preparing for the post-conflict order, refining your values in your mission statement in situations where things are confused and prone to diminishment in the face of changing circumstances, etc.