Sunday, June 29, 2008

Discovery of the Day: The Rape of Europa

Having the day off work and all of my friends tied up with other things, I decided to go see a movie and get out of the heat and storms here in Ohio. I checked what was playing at my local theater and lo and behold, could it be? Were they really playing a documentary? Instead of just blockbuster with action stars? Say no more. I purchased my ticket and sat in the theater (with one old lady as company) to watch the fantastic documentary "The Rape of Europa". Completely worth my $7...though I could have foregone the $5 small popcorn. The documentary discussed how much art played a factor in World War II. From Hitler's plan of attack against countries in an effort to obtain important pieces of art to start his own museum to the Allies strategically planning counterattacks in an effort to avoid (many times unsuccessfully) destroying the amazing art and architecture of Europe.

I found this documentary particularly interesting because I just finished reading an equally fantastic book "The Book Thief" by Markus Zusak. This book, geared to young adults but a must read for everyone, looks at a young German girl named Liesel in World War II. In an effort to make sense of the world around her, Liesel looks to books and words to find explanation and inspritation. And ultimately hope in often hopeless times. When it comes down to it, art in all of it's manifestations is man's expression of inspiration and hope. At times of war, it is easy to forget the importance of art. Who cares about a painting when you are starving? When people are dying around you? And is an underlying theme of our humanity. Without our words, our paintings, our architecture, our sense of beauty are we even human at all?

It's a fascinating subject. One I've had many a shouting match with my "survival is key!" ex-Marine father. I urge you to watch the documentary and read the book. How important is art to you? Or more important, the ability to express yourself artistically? What would you do if your rights were taken away?

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