Movie Review: The Monuments Men

Movie Review: The Monuments Men

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Movie Review: The Monuments Men

By Ray Hanania

From left to right (front): Chamberlain, Dalad...

From left to right (front): Chamberlain, Daladier, Hitler, Mussolini, and Ciano pictured before signing the Munich Agreement. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

George Clooney directs and stars in this Hollywood film about the American military effort to secure what remained of Europe’s greatest art masterpieces, stolen by the Nazis and targeted for destruction by the crazed Fuehrer, Adolph Hitler as his “Thousand Year Reich” came to a crashing collapse in 1945.

In his final days, before committing suicide like a coward, Hitler ordered that all of the art that had been stolen by his Storm Troopers be destroyed, in what was called a “Nero” order. (Nero being the Roman Emperor Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus who many believed ordered much of Rome burned to the ground to clear land for the expansion of his palace.)

It’s a slow paced movie that struggles to bring audiences to the emotional edge, but sadly fails. It’s a masterpiece of historical tale that needs to be retold. Many men, and women, died, to not only liberate Europe from the Nazi hordes, but also to protect what had been stolen by the Nazis from human history.

The Courtyard of the Old Residency in Munich. ...

The Courtyard of the Old Residency in Munich. Adolf Hitler, 1914 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Monuments Men is about a ragtag group of seven museum directors, curators, and art historians, who all knew more about art history than with fighting a war, yet several were killed in the process.

In spite of some failings — it lacked real drama — the story itself is worth watching. It might have made a better historical documentary rather than a Hollywood film. But either way, it achieved one goal, to retell and important story about World War II that should not be forgotten. What the Nazis did to the Jews was an atrocity, a true Holocaust. What the Nazis did to Europe was an international war crime. What the Nazis tried to do to humanity should also never be forgotten.

What’s really ironic is that while Hitler had his goose-stepping mobsters destroy real artwork, his garbage painting, like the Courtyard of his Old Residency in Munich (painted by Adolph Hitler in 1914) survived.

Based on a true story, it stars Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman, Jean Dujardin, Bob Balaban, Hugh Bonneville, and Cate Blanchett. The screenplay is written by Sony Pictures Entertainment from the book by 

Not every movie reviewer liked the film. Many criticized it as dull. But history is not dull, and just because Clooney did not use the hi-tech graphics or insert a lot of fictionalized sensationalism doesn’t mean this movie is not worth watching. It is. I loved it.

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Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania

RAY HANANIA — Columnist

Ray Hanania is an award winning political columnist and author. He covered Chicago Politics and Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992. Hanania began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He later published “The National Arab American Times” newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East food stores in 48 American States (2004-2007).

Hanania writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at, and at, and at

Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem.

Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media;In 2009, he received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. Hanania has also received two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild, and in 1990 was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.

His wife and son are Jewish and he performs standup comedy lampooning Arab-Jewish relations, advocating for peace based on non-violence, mutual recognition and Two-States.

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Visit this link to read Ray's column archive at the ArabNews,com
Ray Hanania