Generally favorable reviews - based on 18 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 16 out of 18
  2. Negative: 0 out of 18
Watch On
  1. Throughout the film its makers pose the question of whether saving a work of art is as important as saving a human life. The question is not answered, and perhaps ultimately unanswerable. Yet Europa movingly shows how for many, art and artifacts are living things.
  2. Filmmakers Richard Berge, Bonni Cohen, and Nicole Newhman do a superb job of telling this neglected story in vivid detail.
  3. Reviewed by: Ken Fox
    This gripping documentary sheds light on the frightening totality of Hitler's vision for a Germanic Europe, and the extent to which he and his Nazi thugs were no better than common thieves.
  4. 83
    With Joan Allen bringing a crisp intelligence to the sharp, unsentimental narration, it's both awful and fascinating to follow Hitler's warped growth from frustrated painter to self-appointed arbiter of Germanic art.
  5. 83
    The film is somewhat scattered in construction, but it's an eye-opener.
  6. Reviewed by: Ronnie Scheib
    This mesmerizing morality play, rich in rare archival footage and complete with heroic Allied saviors, merits a full-fledged arthouse run before reaching larger PBS and cable auds.
  7. Reviewed by: Michelle Orange
    Impressive in scope if unremarkable in style, The Rape of Europa provides a chronology of World War II as it was experienced by "David," "Mona Lisa," and other artistic treasures the Nazis plundered.
  8. 80
    All in all, an exciting and terrifying new perspective on an era you probably thought you understood.
  9. Reviewed by: Ernest Hardy
    It’s a History Channel or PBS special that’s leaped the fence from the boob tube onto the big screen. And it’s riveting.
  10. A surprisingly vast and involving topic.
  11. Fascinating facts and testimony.
  12. Reviewed by: Kenneth Baker
    With impressive clarity and sweep, The Rape of Europa recounts the Nazi theft and destruction of European art and architecture.
  13. A veteran who was in the Allied force trying to drive Germans out of a landmark Italian monastery asks, "What is more important, a great piece of art or a human life?" That it has taken more than 60 years to get this incredible story told answers the question.
  14. 75
    A startling documentary.
  15. Reviewed by: Mark Feeney
    Here the result is often disjointed and frustrating. That 2,000 people lived in the cellars of the Hermitage during the siege of Leningrad is certainly remarkable but not altogether germane to the fate of art during the war.
  16. It’s absorbing. The world came perilously close to losing so many Rembrandts, so many Klimts. The cultural casualties, near and actual, may be dwarfed by the millions slaughtered in the same churn of history. But we are what we create, and when emblems of a civilization are reduced to pawns of wartime, there is no victor.
  17. Unfortunately, most of the two-hour documentary is devoted to annotating what the Nazis stole for both their state and personal collections. The movie doesn't dramatize this crime -- it catalogs it. With deadening monotony.
  18. 50
    Uninspired in style, and Joan Allen's narration is dry.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 8 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 2 out of 2
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 2
  3. Negative: 0 out of 2
  1. Mar 2, 2013
    The Rape of Europa is a fascinating documentary that tells of the story of the theft, destruction, and in some cases saving of art duringThe Rape of Europa is a fascinating documentary that tells of the story of the theft, destruction, and in some cases saving of art during World War II. Narrated by Joan Allen the film takes you through the Nazi plundering of paintings in Poland, France and other countries (especially by Nazi art collectors like Hitler and Goering) to the efforts by citizenry to save museum pieces in Paris and Leningrad, to the unfortunate destruction of Renaissance architectural wonders during allied bombings in Italy and the German army demolishing various important Russian structures in the east. It also goes into efforts that are still going on to track down pieces since missing, and tells of efforts to give back personal effects to families of Jews, items the Nazis stole without thinking twice from people they considered inhuman. All this is told with a delicate balancing act, reminding the viewer of the far greater tragedy of the war: the tens of millions of lives lost, most of them civilians. The misfortune of art during the war is not even close to that level of tragedy, but that doesn’t mean it should be ignored. Art is part of one’s culture and means a lot to great number of people. This is a story that deserves to be told, and though maybe this documentary goes in a few too many directions I found it quite interesting to see this perspective of the War that people rarely talk about. Full Review »
  2. JayW
    Oct 26, 2007
    Stunning documentary about the cultural pretenses that underlied Nazi ideology and war policy to the bitter end, and the Allies' Stunning documentary about the cultural pretenses that underlied Nazi ideology and war policy to the bitter end, and the Allies' conflicted views about the value of Europe's art treasures at a time of deadly conflict. This masterful blending of archival footage and interviews keeps you glued to your seat. Superb in all respects. See it on a big screen if you can! Full Review »