17 March 2014
Extra Credit Opportunity: Historical Film
The Monuments Men
Based on a true story of what was a “treasure hunt” in its most basic definition, The Monuments Men portrays a hand selected World War II platoon on a mission that sends them to all edges of Western Europe in order to retrieve artistic masterpieces stolen by the Nazis and return them to their original owners. This special force of American and British museum curators, directors, art historians, and others scoured Europe for these stolen pieces of art while often unnarmed and behind enemy lines. All the while, attempting to prevent the destruction of over 1000 years of global culture.
Before I watched the film, I vaguely knew about World War II, but a fair amount regarding Hitler and the Nazis. However, I did not know why they did it; why Hitler gave such orders or why so many people cooperated with their “movement”. After watching the movie, I still cannot say why he gave such orders militarily, but I can say why he ordered the kidnapping and eventual destruction of priceless art; leading to creation of “The Monuments Men”. Hitler was expelled from the Vienna Academy of Art, which may seem unimportant but was probably his main motivation that the movie hints at. In the time I watched the film, I learned not only about specific pieces of art, but also about an underrated part during the climax of the Second World War led by none other than Adolf Hitler. A culture is defined as “the arts and other manifestations of human intellectual achievement regarded collectively” (Merriam-Webster). The movie places emphasis on a loss of culture and identity throughout the world yet specifically on mankind’s greatest artistic achievements (masterpieces). Hitler turned what was originally a civilian war, into a defining culture war. The movie describes Hitler as a man who wants to be thought of for his artistic expertise along as a ‘man of the people’. He wanted to