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Monday, February 10, 2014

The Greatest Treasure Hunt In History: Stolen European Art During WWII

I saw “The Monuments Men” at the theatre this past Saturday night.  Have any of you seen it yet?  It hadn’t received a lot of good reviews and that was my first indication that I would probably like it. 


First of all, if the critics were right and it wasn’t a good movie what’s the worst that could happen? Looking at George Clooney for a couple hours on the big screen didn’t sound so bad to me!  Second, with an all-star cast like this one, it couldn’t be that terrible.  And third, it’s based on the book about Europe’s stolen art during WWII and I love history and art.




Much of the movie takes place in France (Paris & Normandy) so I was naturally interested.  The Monuments Men arrived in Deauville, France right after D-Day  (before they made their way into Germany) and it was fascinating to see the compare of Deauville during war-time and Deauville now.  I must admit I got a little teary-eyed to see the portrayal of German-invaded France at that time and the destruction that was caused.

With the other atrocities of WWII such as the concentration camps, it’s a little known fact about and often overlooked situation concerning the stolen art and artifacts from several European countries and Jewish families.  It’s sobering to realize the ruthlessness and disregard that the Nazis had for humankind’s artistic legacy.  Hitler wanted it all for himself if he lived, and if he died the orders were to destroy it ALL.


It’s staggering to try to grasp the magnitude of how much art was taken…paintings, sculptures, etc.  And realize, although thousands of pieces were found, thousands were also destroyed (Hitler didn’t like Picasso) and still others have yet to be located.

I thought the movie was overall very entertaining. The message was conveyed without being too war-depressing and there were many moments of comedic relief including Matt Damon’s attempt at speaking French.   I thought all the actors did a fabulous job and Cate Blanchett was the epitome of a proper French women!  Look close at the details of this 1940s Paris apartment kitchen.  I’m digging the plate rack and the utensil rack.

And for the Downton Abbey fans, Hugh Bonneville (Lord Grantham) plays Major Donald Jeffries and does a splendid job!


After the movie I had to run home and Google about the art treasures that were stolen and more about the real Monuments Men.  It’s a fascinating story.  I’m glad there were enough concerned people to want to rescue these irreplaceable pieces for future generations.  I for one am thankful for this WWII mission.  Below are some original photos that I found of the recovery of the stolen art.




We have more snow and very cold weather in Kentucky today.  If you’re looking for something to do to get out of the house to escape the winter doldrums, I highly recommend having a movie night and going to see “The Monuments Men”.  A little popcorn and George Clooney is enough to brighten anyone’s day!




Kim @ Savvy Southern Style said...

We loved it too and I was having heart palpitations seeing all the stored furniture and paintings.

Susan said...

My husband and I plan on seeing it for a Valentine's night date. I don't usually pay attention to the critic's, anyway......

Shenita @ Embellishments by SLR said...

Great post, Kim! The art is amazing!

Michele M./ Finch Rest said...

OOOhhhh that's a great recommendation, thank you!

Another GREAT movie that did NOT get commercial success but was awesome was called About Time - it's at the discounted "cheap" theatre here now so is probably available at Red Box or something - soooo good.

Thanks! Stay warm, brrrr outside!!

Shirley@Housepitality Designs said...

Well, that is a movie we plan to see...I do not listen to critics....I am anxious to see the countryside of Normandy...thanks for the review and history Kim..I love movies that are based on true events...can't imagine how wonderful it was for that group of men to rescue magnificent works of art...

Janette - The2Seasons said...

I read the book while I was traveling through France and Belgium last fall. I actually read the section about Michaelangelo's Madonna and Child while I was in Brugge (for the fourth visit). The book gave a lot of background info that was not in the movie, but I really enjoyed the movie. I think reading the book first helped with that.

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