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'The Rape of Europa' proves unique WWII stories still exist

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#1 JCFalkenbergIII



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Posted 01 June 2008 - 04:27 PM

'The Rape of Europa' proves unique WWII stories still exist

Chris Hewitt
Pioneer Press

Article Last Updated: 05/29/2008 04:02:51 PM CDT

For documentary filmmakers — if for no one else — World War II is the gift that keeps on giving.
You'd think hundreds of movies would have exhausted the subject, but "The Rape of Europa" proves there are still surprising stories left to tell. This one's about works of art that were either destroyed or swiped by the Nazis (Hermann Goering personally "collected" 2,000 paintings) and it's packed with enough drama to fill six or seven movies.
In fact, why hasn't there been a film about the plucky Frenchwoman whose amateur spying enabled many families to recover artwork stolen from them by Goering? Or the dashing American who criss-crossed Europe in search of masterworks that were hidden in caves? Or the dedicated workers at the Louvre and the Hermitage who took charge of national treasures to prevent them from certain ruin? Or the priceless murals that were destroyed — by the Allies, no less — when an Italian monastery was bombed?
"The Rape of Europa" is conventionally made, but it doesn't need cinematic sizzle because it's packed with so many fascinating factoids: "The Last Supper" narrowly escaped destruction? "The Mona Lisa" once exited the Louvre in an ambulance? Hitler had the gall to a leave a will, with instructions for dispersing "his" stolen art? It's also quite touching, particularly in scenes of a Holocaust survivor whose family treasures are eventually discovered in a Utah museum. Most intriguing, "Europa" has something to say
about what art means to us, not only because Hitler saw destroying art as a crucial part of his plan to wipe out Polish culture but also because these Picassos, Da Vincis and Degases meant so much to their caretakers that — despite being stolen, bombed and dragged over mountains — the caretakers made sure the artwork survived. "THE RAPE OF EUROPA"

'The Rape of Europa' proves unique WWII stories still exist - TwinCities.com

For the first time I have seen "History" at close quarters,and I know that its actual process is very different from what is presented to Posterity. - WWI General Max Hoffman.

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