"If you destroy an entire generation of people's culture - it's as if they never existed."
The war is going badly for Germany. If it was being lost then Hitler's "Nero Decree", or scorched earth policy, was to come into effect. Everything of value was to be destroyed or torched by the Nazis. The ultimate in pure spite.
A team of middle-aged men was formed to try and locate and rescue the art treasures. Art treasures that were looted by the Nazis. This undercover unit of artists was Art's answer to Dad's Army. This unlikely bunch, most of whom were not exactly in the first flush of youth, were then propelled into the war zone. They were the so-called "Monuments Men" of the movie's title.
Interestingly, it was the Monuments Men who found the famous fake Vermeer in Goering's stash. The fake was done by Dutch forger Hans van Meegeren. ( An excellent account of van Meegeren's life and works can be found in "I Was Vermeer: The Forger Who Swindled the Nazis" by Frank Wynne).
The film stars and is directed by George Clooney. Matt Damon stood in for Daniel Craig (Who had scheduling problems). Bill Murray is perfectly cast as the architect from Chicago. John Goodman and Cate Blanchett also star, the latter giving a particularly good performance.
This film shouldn't be compared with Ocean's Eleven and all that. It's a slightly different type of film we have here. One that acknowledges the historical reality involved. Even so, Clooney tries to put a kind of jaunty "Great Escape" spin on some of the film - as well as a touch of Alan Alda's MASH.
Despite all the acting talent, the film never quite clicks into high gear. You feel as if something is missing. Nevertheless I would recommend this film. The story should be told and not forgotten. And it's a reminder, lest we ever forget, of the Insanity of War.