The Monuments Men

Composed By: Alexandre Desplat

 Distributed by: Sony Music Masterworks

Reviewed by Melissa Minners

                Loosely based on the Robert M. Edsel nonfiction book The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History, The Monuments Men stars George Clooney as Frank Stokes, a man charged with setting up a military unit made up of museum curators, directors and art historians during World War II.  The unit is tasked with going behind enemy lines in Nazi Germany to prevent the Nazi military from carrying out orders to destroy the artwork of a thousand years’ worth of culture.

                The music of The Monuments Men was created by critically acclaimed French composer Alexandre Desplat.  Beginning his musical career as a flautist, Desplat trained in classical music, but later expanding his studies to jazz, Brazilian and African music.  Making his foray into film music composition in the 1990, Alexandre Desplat made a name for himself with the composition of The Girl with the Pearl Earring.  Since then, Desplat has created musical scores for over one hundred films, including Argo, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Parts 1 and 2, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Hostage, The Painted Veil, Tree of Life and more.

                The music of The Monuments Men has a definite nostalgic feel, featuring orchestral tracks with a definite nod towards military movies of the WWII era.  The main theme of the film is found in the Opening Titles.  The theme makes its way into numerous tracks on the album in various forms – performed by strings, brass, piano and even in a whistled track (End Titles).  There are comedic moments such as the lighthearted Basic Training, but the rest of the musical score is more dramatic. 

                I thought that I would hear some music from the times and the locale…in fact, it was what I was expecting.  I got one of the two.  The casual listener could definitely tell that this movie, with its horn fanfare and military sound, clearly takes place during wartime, but there is no way for the listener to figure out just where the film takes place.  The lack of ethnicity in the music is a shame – having some European or, specifically German, musical tones would have added a great deal to the score.  That’s not to say that the score wasn’t enjoyable, just not exactly what I was expecting.

                The Monuments Men received harsh criticism in the theaters, and though I have no desire to see the film, I can honestly say that I enjoyed Desplat’s musical score for the movie.  The movie may not be worth checking out, but The Monuments Men Soundtrack is definitely worthy of some interest.


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