Whether you count yourself as an admirer or detractor of George Clooney’s work, there’s no denying that he’s assembled an absolutely incredible cast to his cause with The Monuments Men. In his latest directorial turn, Clooney has wrangled Bill Murray, Jean Dujardin, John Goodman, Bob Balaban, Hugh Bonneville, and Cate Blanchett - and also his frequent collaborator, Matt Damon - and cast them all as members of the Museum, Fine Arts, and Archives program formed by Allied forces during World War II. If the above trailer says anything, it’s that the film will at the very least be superbly acted.
Clooney’s plot finds its basis in Robert M. Edsel’s excellent book, The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History, but the teaser hints at a mild Ocean’s 11 influence as well. Here, George Stout (Clooney) sets about collecting a team of individuals at the height of World War II for one purpose: to protect and recover priceless works of art stolen or marked for destruction by the Nazis.
Seems like a minor mission in the grand scope of that conflict, but to paraphrase Clooney’s voiceover from the clip, destroying a peoples’ culture is like to erasing them from history altogether. Maybe The Monuments Men won’t reach the sort of scale seen in films like Saving Private Ryan or Bridge on the River Kwai, but then again, it doesn’t have to; World War II spanned so many years, involved so many nations, and was fought across so many territories that the number of stories born out of its events may be limitless.
So perhaps Clooney has a refreshing new entry in World War II cinema on his hands. The narrow focus suggests a more intimate narrative, one that hasn’t really been seen in this type of movie before, and the ensemble is talented enough to keep nearly any audience entertained for the film’s duration. Who can resist a picture where Jason Bourne, Walter Sobchak, Galadriel, Peter Venkman, and Lord Grantham all team up to fight Nazis and save irreplaceable paintings and sculptures at the same time? That sounds like a great time at the theater, at least on paper.
We’ll all have to wait until this winter to find out if Clooney has done due justice to the real Monuments Men (and women), and to see if he can overcome his technical limitations as a filmmaker. In the meantime, let us know what you think of the trailer, and take a look at the above photo gallery of Monuments Men images to go along with it. Does this look like one of the best films of 2013, or another entry in one of the most well-worn cinematic genres of all time?
The Monuments Men arrives in theaters on December 18th, 2013.
Source: USA Today