News / Arts & Entertainment

'The Monuments Men' Brings History to Life

'The Monuments Men' Brings History to Lifei
X
February 13, 2014 1:55 AM
George Clooney’s WWII drama “The Monuments Men” is based on the real story of a handful of men sent by the Allied forces to Europe to recover art stolen by the Nazis and return it to their rightful owners. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Penelope Poulou
Is art worth risking life and limb for? This question lies at the heart of George Clooney’s WWII drama “The Monuments Men.” The film, directed and co-written by the actor, is based on the real story of a handful of men sent by the Allied forces to Europe to recover art stolen by the Nazis and return it to their rightful owners.

As WWII came to a close, President Roosevelt authorized a team of art experts to go to German-occupied Europe and salvage masterpieces looted by the Nazis.
 
George Clooney interprets the real life team leader, George Leslie Stout. From 1944-1945, Stout supervised the recovery and removal of several thousand works of art, hidden in salt mines, churches, and other locations in Europe.

The film and its cast bring to life, with some poetic license, the group called “The Monuments Men.”
 
A map of some locations of where the team traveled in Europe is now on display at the Smithsonian's American Art Museum in Washington.

Curator Kate Haw says the film accurately portrays the documents and pictures on display.

“Many of the Monuments’ Men came back from the war and became great figures in the museum field and academic field of art history," said Haw.

George Stout founded the first American art conservation laboratory. Captain James Rorimer went on to become the director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Matt Damon's character in the film, James Granger, is based on Rorimer.

Character Claire Simone was, in real life, curator Rose Valland. She played a central role in the masterpieces' recovery.

“She was a curator who works at the Jeu de Paume, the museum of contemporary art," said actor Cate Blanchett, who was cast as Claire Simone in the film.

“She was watching all of these Nazi leaders choose the art and send it off to different places," said Damon.

“Rose Valland spoke German but she didn’t let the Nazis know that," Haw said. "And so, she listens carefully to what they were saying. She took copious notes of what was coming into the Jeu de Paume and where it went."

Without Valland’s inventory and pictures she gave Rorimer, many of these masterpieces could have been lost forever.

The Smithsonian exhibit pays tribute to the Monuments Men. But it's Hollywood’s more emotional rendition that has put the team and their operation on the map.

You May Like

Video Experts Warn World Losing Ebola Fight

Doctors Without Borders says world is losing battle against Ebola, unless wealthy nations dispatch specialized biological disaster response teams More

Video Experts: Rise of Islamic State Significant Development in Jihadism

Many analysts contend the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years More

US-Based Hong Kongers Pledge Support for Pro-Democracy Activists

Democracy advocates call on Chinese living abroad to join them in opposing new election rules for their home territory More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearancei
X
Elizabeth Lee
September 02, 2014 8:57 PM
Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearance

Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Experts See Rise of ISIS as Significant Development

The Islamic State’s rise seems sudden. It caught the U.S. by surprise this summer when it captured large portions of northern Iraq and spread its wings in neighboring Syria. But many analysts contend that the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years. VOA's Jela de Franceschi takes a closer look at the rise of ISIS and its implications for the Middle East and beyond.
Video

Video Israel Concerned Over Syrian Rebels in Golan

Israeli officials are following with concern the recent fighting between Syrian rebels and government forces near the contested Golan Heights. Forty-four U.N. peacekeepers from Fiji have been seized by Syrian Islamist rebels and the clashes occasionally have spilled into Israel. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

Beyond Category

Pianist Myra Melford’s new CD “Life Carries Me This Way” features solo piano interpretations of drawings by modern artist Don Reich. She performs songs from the album, talks about turning art into music, and joins host Eric Felten in some Chicago boogie-woogie on "Beyond Category."