Monuments Men (2014) was a film I had been looking forward to since I saw the trailer earlier this year. I had high hopes for it and, as a whole, I think it delivered.
The film is based on the true story of a group of art historians, museum directors and curators who, during World War 2, were tasked to locate, preserve and recover the countless pieces of art stolen by the Nazis. It leads to the most extravagant and dangerous treasure hunt in history as we follow these unlikely heroes as they travel all over the continent retrieving and preserving the culture of war-torn Europe.
The first thing that drew me to this film was the cast, and the great array of talent they managed to get in this picture. My favourite comical actor, Bill Murray, gave a ‘classic Murray’ performance riddled with dry wit and humorous jabs aimed at his comrades. Another favourite comedy actor of mine, John Goodman, played a great role too, delivering some quality lines which had me laughing out loud (literally lol).
Everyone else did a great job, especially Cate Blanchett who played her character to perfection, keeping that convincing French accent up throughout is no mean feat and she did it wonderfully. George Clooney and Matt Damon brought their usual talent to the film delivering the high quality performance that we have come to expect from these two.
What a lot of critics have picked up on was the direction of the film, they didn’t know what it was trying to be. Is it a war film? Drama? Caper? Well I saw it as a film tackling a serious subject in a sometimes comical, sometimes serious way. Whereas this has been a drawback for a lot of critics, I found this to be one of the things I liked about the film.
Why must we set out the genre of film in black and white? Why must we say ‘this is a war film so it cannot contain any moments of joy, any laughs?’ I think what director George Clooney did was brave and I think he pulled it off. It was serious when it needed to be, emotional in parts and funny in others. Solider trying to make light of their situation is something we have seen in films, but with the talents of Murray and Goodman, they managed to pull it off wonderfully.
I think what Clooney cleverly did was, knowing he wanted to create some funny moments in a serious story and retain the respect owed to the soldiers who did this, choose his cast carefully. He needed some funny actors, ones that could genuinely make the audience laugh, but he needed it to be subtle, so choosing Murray and Goodman was a stroke of genius. If he would have gone the other route and recruited mainstream comical actors such as Ben Stiller, Adam Sandler or anyone of the like then we would have had another film completely and one which would have failed miserably.
So all in all, I think this was a great film. It told a story I had not heard before and showed us World War 2 from a different point of view while raising some very interesting points. You can destroy a population, kill everyone and they will live on in their culture, their art. Allow that to be destroyed and you lose the people.