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The Monuments Men: Movie Review

Hannah Goodwyn


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Based on a true story, The Monuments Men is a theatrical account of a dangerous mission to save priceless works of art from the devastation ripping through World War II Europe. It recounts the bravery of Allied volunteers, comprised of artists and museum curators, as they attempt to steal back treasures pilfered by the Nazis. Think The Train ('60s Burt Lancaster WWII movie) meets Ocean's Eleven.

Unfortunately, the passion George Clooney had to make this movie (he wrote, acted, produced and directed it) doesn't fully translate into a powerfully engaging film. Though The Monuments Men illuminates a fairly unknown and important part of modern history, it is not as moving as one might hope after watching its intriguing trailer.


The tide of the war in Europe is turning. As the Allies gain ground, air raids pummel Germany's defenses while also demolishing historical sites. With a commission from President Roosevelt, Frank Stokes (Clooney) gathers a group of unlikely "soldiers" to protect national treasures and return everything Hitler's army stole back to their owners, Jewish families and churches in the Nazi occupied territories. As Germany's defeat appears even more inevitable, Hitler orders his commanders to burn everything – all of the religious artifacts, paintings and sculptures collected – upon his death. In a race to recover the confiscated art before it's too late, Stokes and his band of brothers venture into some of the most dangerous battlegrounds of the war's end.


This account of one of history's greatest art heists falls short of becoming its own work of cinematic art. Potentially deep characters are glossed over as the storyline swiftly and sometimes disjointedly moves from one plot point to the next. This is especially true for the first act of the film.

The exceptional cast creates moments of real transparency, drama and needed levity. Alongside Clooney are perfectly casted Matt Damon, Bob Balaban, John Goodman and Bill Murray (who gives one of the best performances). Rounding out the cast is Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine), Jean Dujardin (The Artist) and Hugh Bonneville (Downton Abbey).

It's nice to see a film acknowledge the personal and universal significance of faith. In one instance, a character says a blessing of "God go with you". Art is creation. Therefore, we, as God's created, must preserve it. These brave men and women who sacrificed to protect our history understood that well and are rightfully honored in this film.

While the film's intended message is a noble one, it does contain content that may be questionable to faith audiences. The Monuments Men is rated PG-13 for some images of war violence and historical smoking. Caution is also advised due to the foul language used in the film, including instances of profanity.


The Monuments Men is entertaining and enlightening, but not a masterpiece.

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About The Author


Hannah Goodwyn served as a Senior Producer for, managing and writing for the award-winning website. After her undergraduate studies at Christopher Newport University, Hannah went on to study Journalism at the graduate level. In 2005, she graduated summa cum laude with her Master's from Regent University and was honored with an Outstanding Student Award. From there, Hannah began work as a content producer for For ten years, she acted as the managing producer for the website's Family and Entertainment sections. A movie buff, Hannah felt right at home working as's