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Film Studies 101
Feature
Hollywood Vs. Culture: Rampant Art Vandalism In The Movies
We tot up the value of art destroyed in Hollywood’s rush for excitement

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The Monuments Men sees a group of World War II soldiers fight to preserve the cultural artefacts that shaped Western civilization. In Hollywood terms, however, they’re in a tiny minority. Generally speaking, when a film introduces a priceless work of art it’s because they’re about to tear it, blow it up or otherwise deface it. We gathered some of the most egregious offenders below...

WORDS BEN KIRBY
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ANGELS & DEMONS (2009)

Angels & Demons - Galileo’s Diagramma Veritatis

What’s the art?
Galileo’s Diagramma Veritatis, a fragile pamphlet printed “on sedge papyrus.” Which means it dissolves in water, supposedly.

What happened?
A page is abruptly ripped out of the priceless, nearly 400 year old manuscript. This, despite Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) carefully using gloves and tweezers, and warning that, “It’s possible this is the only copy that remains”. When Empire saw this film, there were gasps of horror around the cinema at this point – but in fairness that might have been a general response to the film.

Whodunnit?
Vittoria Vetra (Ayelet Zurer). Poor old Robert Langdon only asks if she’ll note down what it says, but she’s so paranoid about Vatican officials snooping over their shoulder that she rips the whole damn page out. Was the photocopier broken? And what’s wrong with just taking a picture? Don’t they have smartphones? Anyway, Vittoria clearly inspires him: Langdon later climbs a bookshelf and topples it over, priceless old books and all, in an attempt to escape a sealed library.

What’s the bill?
Well, considering it’s almost certainly a fictional manuscript, Ron Howard and friends can rip merrily away. However, if real, it would cost a lot. A first edition manuscript of Galileo’s Sidereus Nuncius sold at Christie’s in 2010 for $662,500.
 

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