Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Rape of Europa - A Must See Film!

I just watched from Netflix the mesmerizing documentary "The Rape of Europa" --and I must immediately urge all of you love who love the arts, to see it!...As soon as possible!

It´s an amazing film about the plundering of European art done by the Nazis during the Second World War --and what is most fascinating is to see the historical footage showing the details of it all. Including very emotional footage of how museums, like Le Louvre and the Hermitage, prepared themselves to protect their masterpieces from air raids, as well as the pillage of the Nazis.
We learn how very important Jewish art collectors, like the Rothschild's and the Seligman's, were singled out by Goehring and Hilter to steal from them amazing paintings and sculptures in a very brazen way. The raids of furniture, china and silverware in thousands of homes and their transport to Germany!

The huge scope of the destruction of the war is shown in detail in bombed cities filled with art masterpiees like Pisa and St Petersburg. The underground tunnels filled with stolen art as well as the salt mine where Hitler kept his treasures. It´s amazing to see the moment when the very beautiful Victoire of Samothrace (I did not know that when originally found it had been restored from hundreds of fragments and is very fragile although it seems so strong!) ---was being very removed from the Louvre, to protect her and hide her inside a Loire chateâu , together with the Mona Lisa that still smiles to us from a huge wooden box where it was hidden. To return to Paris- both of them- at the end of the war, unharmed and triumphant!

The film shows the empty huge museum galleries, the frames that held the paintings empty and leaning against the walls, waiting for their return. Many did, but thousands are still unaccounted for. We see the before-and-after of destroyed monuments. And we hear from many witnesses -old soldiers and the famous US Monument Men- that participated in protecting and recovering many of the masterpieces.

Only seeing this film one can understand this not much talked about aspect of the destruction of war ---so I urge you to see The Rape of Europa -based on the great book by Lynn Nicholas- to broaden your understanding of what it all was. It's an absolutely marvelous film!