The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

Opinion & Letters to the Editor

March 7, 2014

‘Monuments Men’ good, not monumental

Thursday, March 6, 2014 — When I was growing up, my first taste of war films, and specifically films that were set during World War II, came from the “Late Show” on CBS. Some will remember a time before David Letterman was on CBS, and the network actually showed movies from 11:30 p.m.-1:30 a.m. It was during some late Friday nights and summer nights in the 1970s that I discovered “The Dirty Dozen,” “The Great Escape” and others. My personal favorite World War II film back in those days was actually one I had seen at the theater first, but watched it again every time it aired; that film was “Kelly’s Heroes” (starring a much younger Clint Eastwood, Telly Savalas, Don Rickles and Donald Sutherland). I still smile when I think of that film, because in spite of telling a story of war, it offered a great deal of humor.

Watching “The Monuments Men” recently brought back memories of those films seen as late night viewings because this new film seems to have captured the same spirit. Films such as “Saving Private Ryan,” “The Thin Red Line” and “Enemy at the Gates” have offered more mature perspectives on the Great War; more carnage, less humor. In a way, the cinema’s depiction of the second World War grew up parallel to my own maturing. I do not regret growing up with Lee Marvin’s “Dirty Dozen” and Eastwood’s “Heroes.” However, a part of me now expects depictions of war to be serious, more intense, less jokes.

Those responsible for the creation of “The Monuments Men” intentionally chose a more light-hearted spirit for this film. There are many laughs, a few poignant moments as well, but more humor than sadness and very little on screen violence. At first, I guess, having been inoculated with violence and serious tones of most war films of late, I found the attitude of “Monuments Men” to be slightly disconcerting.  

With that said, there is much to like about “Monuments Men.” It is a based on a fascinating true story about eight men charged with rescuing great works of art from Hitler’s soldiers who are bent on owning or destroying all they can. The whole theme of the value of art versus human life reminded me of that great debate scene in Woody Allen’s “Bullets Over Broadway,” but that is a column for another day.  

I liked the eight leads; their characters were strong and well-developed. Cate Blanchett also delivered another extraordinary performance. The cinematography, art direction and other technical aspects of the film were all outstanding. I also found the music score to be perfect for the film. Too often of late it seems that fewer films are succeeding when it comes to appropriate scores, but “Monuments Men” is not one of those. And the story itself needed to be told. It is an important part of the history of World War II.

As I stated above, there are some truly powerful moments. There are sacrifices in this story that are inspiring and scenes that are as moving as the relationships of the characters develop. However, in the end for me, I still find myself thinking of those films from my childhood and teenage days when war movies, at least the ones I was watching, were light and often very humorous. I still remember the outhouse blowing up on Don Rickles in “Kelly’s Heroes.” The creators of “Monuments Men” have every right to make a film with a similar attitude. It is a film I recommend, but I keep wondering if I would have endorsed it more enthusiastically if it had been serious like the war movies I have grown to love as an adult. I wonder.

Roger W. Thomas of Albemarle reviews films for The Stanly News & Press.           

1
Text Only
Opinion & Letters to the Editor
  • D.G. Martin Read others’ views to be better informed, decide for yourself

    “I don’t read The Washington Post. That is not where I get my ideas.”

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Patrick Gannon This isn’t medical marijuana

    As state legislators debated allowing the use of an extract from marijuana plants to treat seizure disorders over the past couple of weeks, it was evident that social conservatives – there are many of them in the General Assembly – felt a tinge of unease about it, even as almost every one of them voted yes.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Doug Creamer Friends and contentment

    Last week I made my annual trip up the mountain to Sparta. My friends have a secluded home near a babbling brook. Their home and property are a haven for peace. It’s a two-plus hour ride to their home that doesn’t feel that long because I look so forward to my time with this great couple. When I arrive, the conversation seems to pick up right where we left it the last time we saw each other.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Thanks for the honest deed

    I would like to thank the person that found my wallet in the parking lot of Harris Teeter on July 23 and turned it in to the Albemarle Police.

    July 29, 2014

  • cleaning supplies Don't judge mothers with messy homes

    I was building shelves in my garage when a neighbor girl, one of my 4-year-old daughter's friends, approached me and said, "I just saw in your house. It's pretty dirty. Norah's mommy needs to clean more."

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • We need your help

    Hurray for the Albemarle City Council. Council plans to battle N.C. Department of Transportation’s ranking of all 13 projects in Stanly County to the bottom of their priority list. Council is setting up petitions in various city buildings for citizens to sign.

    July 28, 2014

  • Council asks veterans to seek office

    The terms of office for the leaders of the Stanly County Veterans Council ended June 30. A call is being sent to veterans council members requesting candidates for the four elective offices of the council. A meeting has been set for 6:30 p.m. Aug. 12 at the DAV building. All council members are urged to attend.

    July 28, 2014

  • Mike Walden The gains and gaps in our economy

    Twice a year, I pull out my cloudy crystal ball and attempt to make some predictions about the direction and pace of the North Carolina economy. I just finished my latest effort and, as usual, the results are a combination of pluses and minuses.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jason O. Boyd Yellow journalism takes on new form, people are dumber for it

    Time to get on the soapbox for a few minutes.
    Let me clear my throat. Eh ... hem!
    People are dumb.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Brent Laurenz Special election adds to the mix

    RALEIGH – A busy slate of judicial elections this November got even busier recently when Judge John Martin of the N.C. Court of Appeals announced his retirement.
    A special statewide election to fill Martin’s seat will be added to the general election ballot, joining the four N.C. Supreme Court seats and three N.C. Court of Appeals races already slated for this fall.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

House Ads
Seasonal Content