The Monuments Men – A Bookish Movie Review

February 27, 2014 Book To Movie Challenge, History, Narrative Non-Fiction, non-fiction 12

Monuments Men I liked the book of The Monuments Men enough to go see this in theaters, which is not something I often do. I ended up enjoying it pretty well, but was a bit disappointed in the changes made from the book. I liked seeing the story brought to life. Even the helpful cast list the author had is no match for seeing living, breathing people when it came to engaging my sympathy for a large number of characters. In both the book and the movie, the humorous and the serious mixed  in sometimes jarring ways. Saving art is important! And oh by the way, here’s a sad story about people dying to make you question the value of art. I found the juxtaposition stranger in the movie than in the book though, perhaps because the trailers I watched made me expect a light-hearted story.

As is so often the case, the movie added exciting but completely fictional events to the events of the book. In some ways, this might have been the right thing to do. For instance, even with the added action, my boyfriend who had not read the book found the movie a bit slow. However, I think these men deserve to be remembered and I think fictionalizing their story defeats the purpose of telling it to begin with. I found the fictionalized crush the one women had on one of the men in the movie particularly offensive because I think she seems less admirable as a result. I also disliked that exciting events were made up. There were instances in the book, such as one of the monuments men being mistaken for a spy that could have been humorously elaborated on instead of making things up from scratch. For all my complaints, I think this was a well made if slightly slow movie. It just doesn’t stand up well to a comparison with the wonderful book!

12 Responses to “The Monuments Men – A Bookish Movie Review”

    • DoingDewey

      I actually really loved the casting. I thought the characters’ interactions led to some of the funniest and some of the most moving scenes in the movie. The acting was good too 🙂

    • DoingDewey

      Since I started reviewing movies, I’ve been intentionally seeing them right after reading the book, so I can compare. For enjoyment purposes though, I think your idea of waiting a while might be better. Maybe I’d enjoy the movies more if I wasn’t comparing them to the book 🙂 For now, I think I’m doing ok separating my enjoyment of the movie from my happiness with how the book was adapted, but I’ll try letting more time pass if that changes.

  1. Sarah

    I saw the movie yesterday. Yet to read the book, but it’s on my to-pick-up-when-it-gets-to-the-top-of-the-pile list. Enjoyed the movie, but thought it was a bit disjointed, so looking forward to filling in the gaps.
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    • DoingDewey

      If you enjoyed the movie, I think you’re likely to enjoy the book even more. It’s a bit slower than the movie, but I think that’s partly because it is a more cohesive story with less jumping around 🙂

    • DoingDewey

      The cast was definitely part of why I was so excited for this one and they really do a great job. Even though this wasn’t as awesome as the book, I had a fun time watching it 🙂

  2. Charlie

    Good review! I’ve seen the trailers but didn’t know it was an adaptation. The cast list is impressive, so I’m tempted, and wonder if the difference is enough that you can watch it before reading the book? (I can’t believe I’m saying that!)

    • DoingDewey

      I was very excited about the cast for the movie too! I think you could watch the movie before the book and then enjoy the book filling in the details of the story, as long as you remember that some of the exciting events in the movie didn’t really happen. Otherwise, the book could seem a bit slow by comparison, I think.
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