on 17 February 2014
I recently saw “The Monuments Men” in the theater. I enjoyed the movie more than I had expected, and very much enjoyed the orchestral score. I made a mental note to check out the soundtrack.
“The Monuments Men – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack” (25 tracks; 61 min.) is the movie score composed by French composer Alexandre Desplat. He is a veteran movie guy, having previously scored films like the recent “Philomena”, “Zero Dark Thirty”, and the previous George Clooney movie “The Ides of March”. As you can tell from the number of tracks and the total running time, many of these are very short, in the 1 to 2 min. frame, some not even that. But it doesn’t detract from the overall enjoyment of the album. From the opening sounds of “The Roosevelt Mission”, you can feel a certain military undertone to it, and that comes back time and again. “Opening Titles” is the optimistic-sounding opening march, reminding me of John Williams’ opening song for “1941” of Steven Spielberg all those years ago. “Ghent Altarpiece” plays at an early crucial moment in the film, when Jan Van Eyk’s masterpiece is whisked away. As is often the case with these orchestral soundtracks, you can almost make out the entire plot of the movie by looking at the titles of these songs (“Sniper”, “Into Bruges”, “Jean-Claude Dies”, etc.). I suppose it’s unavoidable but it’s irritating at times nevertheless, certainly if one hasn’t seen the movie yet. Pointing out a couple more highlights: “Claire & Granger” is beautifully romantic, with a sweeping orchestra sound. “Castle Art Hoard” is nicely restrained but still evocative. My least favorite track on here is the 9 min. “Finale”, which is tied directly to the dramatic conclusion of the movie. After a nice 1 min. “Closing Titles” comes the only sung track, a cover of “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas”, in an a cappella rendition that plays as the troops are in the Battle of the Bulge in December 1944 in Belgium and it will give you goose bumps. It is a great moment in the movie and I am very happy it is included in this collection.
A few words about the movie: if you don’t like art or history, do yourself a favor and catch a different movie. If on the other hand you love art and history, you are in for a treat. This is a solid historical drama that gave me some insights on WWII, and in particular the preservation/recovery of art in WWII, which I didn't have before.
Bottom line: "The Monuments Men", both the movie and the soundtrack, is definitely worth checking out.