Thursday, January 24, 2008

Weekend documentary: The Rape of Europa

I wanted to direct Columbus readers' attention to the Wexner Center screenings of THE RAPE OF EUROPA this weekend. Here's what I wrote about the film during my Cleveland International Film Festival coverage last March:
The doc is concerned with the Nazi plundering of art and cultural treasures during World War II and the measures that museum workers took to safeguard their precious collections. Workers at the Louvre and Hermitage cobbled together evacuation plans to keep their most important items from being stolen. Although decades in the past, the story continues with legal skirmishes waged over the rightful ownership of paintings taken at the time. The sheer volume of artwork the Nazis stole, hid, and destroyed is mind-boggling. In one sense, it's a miracle anything survived.

THE RAPE OF EUROPA also looks at the damage inflicted on architecture during the war and the repairs still being done today. Allied commanders had to decide what they would attack and bomb despite the historic or artistic value of the buildings. Information like this keeps the documentary fresh.

I wouldn't be surprised if THE RAPE OF EUROPA turns up on PBS or The History Channel at some point. It's a solid piece of work that presents a unique aspect about the war. The title suggests a bleaker film than it is. To be sure the loss of life in the war was a greater tragedy, but this film underscores the idea that valuable parts of culture and history were lost too.
Co-director Bonni Cohen will introduce the film on Saturday night. More information is available here.

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