Embarking on a seemingly impossible mission, the team splits up to find the art on several different fronts. They are specifically trying to prevent the Germans from stealing the Madonna and Child statue by Michelangelo, as well as the Van Eyck altarpiece panels in a Ghent cathedral, as this piece is a cornerstone of the Catholic religion. Following several different leads, members of the team run into various forms of resistance, both from their own military not wanting to halt fighting to save the art, and from German soldiers still in the areas, even though the war is drawing to a close and Germany has lost. This puts an even more immediate need in place as Hitler has decreed that all of the art be destroyed if Germany falls. Worst yet, the Russians are racing to find the art as well, to claim as reparations from the war.
James Granger connects with Claire Simone (Cate Blanchett), a Parisian curator who was forced to watch as Nazi officers plundered the valuable art left in her care. She doesn't trust Granger and his team as she thinks they simply want to plunder the art for themselves, and it will take Granger's heartfelt desire to restore the art to its rightful owners to sway her feelings and garner her assistance.
Personally, I had no knowledge of this group sent to rescue art until I heard about the movie The Monuments Men. I thoroughly enjoyed the film and its portrayal of these men, even if it was "loosely based" on the actual members of the group. While the message of the film is serious in tone, I also enjoyed the bits of levity offered by some of the actors, several of whom are far more recognized for their comedic roles than their dramatic roles. However, the comedy does not take away from the seriousness of the war itself and several heart-wrenching scenes drive this home. I loved watching the story unfold in The Monuments Men and thoroughly enjoyed the film, especially learning about something with which I was previously unfamiliar.
Special features are slim, including only a brief featurette on George Clooney's mission to create this film and another on the assembling of the team of actors that comprise the cast. Both are enjoyable to watch.
I am a fan of movies centered on WWII, because I find the topic both horrifying and interesting, and I found The Monuments Men to be a beautiful expression of the importance of art, beauty and culture and the lengths that some people will go to preserve it, even as others are seeking to tear it down. If you have any interest in this slice of history, and especially if you are a fan of art, you will enjoy The Monuments Men.