5 June 2007 | emperornorton9
A must-see for art or WWII historians as well as those simply interested.
The Rape of Europa is a slick, well shot, well directed, interesting, highly informative and still entertaining documentary from the directorial triumvirate of Bonni Cohen, Nicole Newnham and Richard Berge. The documentary uses the book by Lynn H. Nicholas of the same name as a kind of runway for its exploration of the Nazi's systematic plundering of Europe's art. The film incorporates interviews, voice over narration. vintage footage photos and documents that all work cooperatively in making this documentary work in every respect. The film takes its viewers on an in depth journey of the subject through seven European countries, most notably France, Italy, Poland and Germany.
The film sheds light on Hitler's own personal art career, from his rejection of Vienna's art Academy to his plans to amass the world's largest art collection in his ideal city. Interesting and relatively unknown facts are uncovered that relate Hitler's art career to his actions as dictator. Hitler's antisemitism, as one interview subject suggests, was likely fueled by his rejection from Vienna's art Academy as the academy's panel was largely Jewish. Hitler also created a "hit-list" of famous works he wanted for his collection, most of which directly correspond to his invasion of various European countries. Art collecting was a highly important pastime among Nazi officials for a variety of reasons, as discussed largely with Herman Goering and Hitler himself who had amassed enormous, unparalleled personal collections, largely through theft.
Another highly interesting portion of the film shows the perilous and miraculous journey many of these works underwent. As a Nazi invasion loomed, hundreds of people, in France's world famous Louvre for example, gathered and worked tirelessly, packing the priceless art and transferring it to castles throughout the French countryside. The daughter of the man entrusted with the Mona Lisa is interviewed in the film.
The film examines the seventy-year plus struggle to restore and reclaim these stolen masterpieces, many of which remain unaccounted for. The allied position of fighting while simultaneously trying to maintain the hostage art is also discussed in detail, as well as the Allied efforts to return the art after it was repossessed. The film is a must-see for art or WWII historians as well as those simply interested.