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The Rape of Europa (2006)

Unrated  |   |  Documentary, History, War  |  12 November 2006 (USA)
7.7
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Ratings: 7.7/10 from 1,089 users   Metascore: 77/100
Reviews: 23 user | 36 critic | 18 from Metacritic.com

The story of Nazi Germany's plundering of Europe's great works of art during World War II and Allied efforts to minimize the damage.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Narrator
E. Randol Schoenberg ...
Himself
Maria Altmann ...
Herself
Wolfgang Fischer ...
Himself
Jonathan Petropoulos ...
Himself
Kenneth Lindsay ...
Himself
Lynn Nicholas ...
Herself
Nancy Yeide ...
Herself
Gottfried Toman ...
Himself
S. Laine Faison ...
Himself
Andrej Kamienski ...
Himself
Maria Osterwa Czekaj ...
Herself
Monika Kuhnke ...
Herself
Count Adam Zamoyski ...
Himself
Vincent Pomarède ...
Himself
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Storyline

THE RAPE OF EUROPA takes the audience on a journey through seven countries telling a story of greed and warfare that threatened the artistic heritage of Europe. For twelve years, the Nazis looted and destroyed art. Young art historians and curators from America and across Europe fought back, mounting a campaign to rescue and return countless art works displaced by the war. Joan Allen narrates this chronicle about the battle over centuries of western culture. Written by Actual Films

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Imagine The World Without Our Masterpieces


Certificate:

Unrated
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Release Date:

12 November 2006 (USA)  »

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(35 mm version)|

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1.85 : 1
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User Reviews

 
Nothing Sells Like Another Film About The Nazis.
3 May 2008 | by See all my reviews

"The Rape of Europa" is a documentary film about the Nazis' concerted, organized, and methodical theft of the art patrimony of Europe during the Second World War, and the film tilts heavily toward the Nazis' theft of art from Jewish collections. Ultimately, this emphasis on the anti-Jewishness of the Nazi program is the film's weakness. While the documentary appears to shine a light on the loathsome Nazis, there is also a detectable anti-German subtext to the film and, in particular, the Austrians come in for muted scorn.

No one can come to the defense of the megalomaniac Adolf Hitler, so why do some people continue to go out of their way to slander him as a "bad artist." Let's be honest here, that disturbed man was without a doubt a better artist/painter than 99.9 percent of all of us reading this IMDb forum. Has anyone ever heard of Winston Churchill being described as a "bad painter?" To slap the "bad artist" tag on Hitler comes across as mere propaganda, and propaganda always casts doubt on the ultimate truth of a work of non-fiction. There is a also a noticeable tone of artistic condescension in this film, especially in interview segments with author Lynn H. Nicholas.

The film touches on the controversy surrounding Gustav Klimt's portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer. Bloch-Bauer herself wanted the portrait to go to the Austrian State Gallery upon the death of her husband, but when he fled Austria the Nazis apparently confiscated the painting. While the painting did eventually make its way to the Austrian State Gallery after the war, it was decided in the 1990's to remove the painting from the that gallery and award it to Bloch-Bauer's remaining relatives. They subsequently sold this family heirloom for something in the neighborhood of 100 million dollars. So much for honoring Block-Bauer's bequest. One might get the impression that the whole affair was not about truth or justice or rightful ownership, but about money.

This film would be a good primer for those who have heard relatively little about the destruction wrought on Europe and its culture by World War II. However, there must be hundreds of other documentary films that touch on the subject in a better way. I found Joan Allen's narration to be particularly weak, her lightweight voice lacking the authority required in a serious documentary film. She's certainly no Alexander Scourby.

I do not think that anyone anywhere can adequately convey the hell on earth that was the Second World War. This narrowly focused film only confirms that view.


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