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Trivia / Goofs
Times of India
A group of art experts cobbled together by Frank Stokes are authorized by Franklin Roosevelt to go across Nazi-occupied Europe and locate thousands of artworks that the Nazis have stolen for a 'Fuhrer Museum'.
Based on a true story, The Monuments Men is immediately reminiscent of old school Hollywood films also set in World War II. The last war where there was a clear cut right and wrong, principles were noble and objectives clear. This one deals with a subject that has taken decades to appear on the big screen - the story about all the art that the Nazis robbed from occupied countries, which represented about a thousand years of human culture. The 15th century Ghent Altarpiece becomes symbolic of their quest.
The museum directors, curators and art historians whom Stokes (Clooney, based on the real-life Monument Man George Stokes) rounds up are woefully out of shape. But they certainly know their Rodin from a Rubens. So, after coughing, panting, wheezing and struggling through basic training, they land in Normandy, break up into dyads and set about tracking down art from a comprehensive list.
James Granger (Damon) meets Claire Simone (Blanchett) who worked in Paris's Jeu De Paume museum before it was looted by the Nazis. She, albeit reluctantly at first, helps Granger by giving him a comprehensive art inventory list, so the men know where to look. Richard Campbell (Murray) and Preston Savitz (Balaban) share some poignant moments that reflect on the nature of war, while Jean Claude Clairmont (Dujardin) and Walter Garfield (Goodman) are often hilarious. And at regular points, we are reminded about the nobility of their cause by the square-jawed Stokes.
The film itself looks terrific, thanks to cinematographer Phedon Papamichael's mostly German locations and a misty, retro-looking palette. Unfortunately, the multiple scenarios make the story-telling a bit unbalanced at times. What overcomes this weakness is the fact that the film makes a profound point in a subtle way - that the Fuhrer's ambitions if left unchecked would have been world-altering, in the most unsettling of ways.
'The Monuments Men' was originally slated for a December 2013 release, with an awards/holiday season aim. In a rare move, George Clooney asked the studio for more time for post-production due to the special effects not being ready, knowing this would make it very unlikely to receive awards attention. Reluctantly, the studio agreed to release it in February, 2014.
Matt Damon wasn't the original choice to play James Granger in 'The Monuments Men'. Daniel Craig was cast in the role but ultimately he dropped out due to scheduling conflicts.
Interestingly, director George Clooney's father, Nick Clooney also has a role to play in 'The Monuments Men'. The actor playing the older Frank Stokes visiting the Madonna of Bruges is played by Nick Clooney.
Though the name was withheld in the film, the office in Paris where the Nazis amass their stolen art was the Gallerie Jeu de Paum, located next to Place de la Concorde in the heart of the city. The real Hermann Göring visited the museum 20 times during the war and cherry-picked over 700 items for his private collection.