Sunday, February 16, 2014

"I seem to have stepped on a landmine."

For a month my family and I have wanted to see The Monument's Men. We were planning on going as soon as it was out, but it was a week later before we made it. It was worth the wait though.



The movie is set in WWII and is about a select group of men who were part of a bigger organization working to save art and other historical artifacts - especially those which had been taken from the Jews. The group the movie focused on was under the command of Frank Stokes, who was based off of George Leslie Stout. Stokes is something of a Historian, I don't remember exactly what he was, who was determined to save historical sites being destroyed in the fighting. He got together a group of mostly older men who Historians themselves or art experts and they all went overseas to save what they could.


The movie took a lighter side to what is normally seen in WWII movies. It had sad moments, one of which is when the men find a barrel filled with gold fillings taken from teeth, assumed Jews teeth. Next to it is another barrel, it is not shown clearly what is in it in, but from the glance the camera gives it looks to be gold wedding rings. Also, two of the men get into a shoot out with an unseen enemy who turns out to be a little boy. This scene ends on a happy note as the boy is unharmed and both men decide to tell no one they were pinned down by a kid, but the beginning is sadder as both men realize they are in a war zone and actually have to fight and maybe die.
Being the big history nerd I am, I loved how much the movie focused on saving history. In the beginning of it, Stokes tells his men they aren't to risk their lives saving the art. He says they are worth more than a painting and are to let it go if it means they might be killed. However, this changes when one of the men is shot trying to save the Madonna statue from falling into German hands. it is at that moment that Stokes and the others realize just what they are fighting for.
Stokes puts it better than I ever could, but he says something along the lines of Hitler wanting to destroy every memory of the Jews. If a home is taken, if a battle is fought, if trails come it is all okay because they end. A people can get through it and rebuild. But if their foundation is taken away, their history and their past, then they will disappear into ashes. While soldiers were fighting to save the lives of the Jews Stokes and others like him were fighting to save their heritage so when the war ended they would still have their roots.

Now, so you will believe me when I say it was a fun movie and did have some moments to laugh over. During one part in the movie one of Stokes men steps on a landmine while working in one of the mines were the Germans were hiding all of the art. He calls Stokes in and tells him what happened - I used the line for the title of this post - and Stokes says, "What did you do that for?" He calls in the other men who ask the same thing, and then they all get together to find a way to get James - the one on the mine - off alive. One of them suggests he just steps off as it is very likely a dud but James refuses to believe him. They finally pile up bricks on one edge of the mine, trying to guess James's weight - who hasn't weighed himself since college. They all survive, but when James steps off the mine goes off, thankfully though it was a dud.

The movie did have some language in it, but not as much as I was expecting. I notice language, but I only remember a few words so I don't think there was much at all, and way less then what is in most war movies. It showed blood, but again, not like other war movies I've seen. And I thought there was going to be a bad scene in it, but thankfully it didn't happen. It was a very good movie over all. Maybe even my favorite next to The Great Escape. I would recommend it

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