At the dawn of World War II, a group of resistance and arts lovers organizes an incredible exfiltration of masterpieces of the Louvre Museum in order to save it off the Nazis’ hands. The man leading the operation is Jacques Jaujard, the Louvre Museum’s director. Jaujard is a man who made a mark in his time by his extraordinary personality, love and passion for the arts. Although he was a high officer and devoted servant to the State, he put his knowledge of the system, strategic and incredible audacity to serve a universal cause: to save the national heritage.
The Man who Saved the Louvre tells the story of a few good men and women
who under the leadership of Jacques Jaujard resisted against the Third Reich’s systematic campaign to plunder Europe’s treasures through theft, confiscation, and forced sales. Between 1939 and 1945, Jaujard stood up to Hermann Goering’s looting task force and its Vichy Regime accomplice to save state-owned and private artworks. Shifting his mental gear to an underground Resistance mode, he turned his inside knowledge of the administrative machinery into a fearsome strategy, using all to tricks in the book to stall, trespass and disregard orders without getting caught.
When the war broke out, Jacques Jaujard had been working on a meticulous evacuation and safe-keeping plan for months. His unlikely team of curators, students, volunteer guards and truck drivers carried out his risky plan. All the Louvre masterpieces were secretly transported in 71 castles and hospitals across occupied France. Bookish curators turned into Resistance fighters. For 6 years, against all odds, they kept France’s cultural heritage under armed-
The coveted Mona Lisa had to be whisked to five different locations. But it was all worth it. In1945, Mona and her companions in exile made it back to the Louvre. Safe and sound.
The Man who saved the Louvre is not yet another take on World War II, but the epic story of unsung heroes who took it upon themselves to protect our hearts and souls against the enemy’s insane designs. Art makes up part of our DNA, as a people. The transmission of an
artist’s vision of his time, from one generation to the next, feeds our collective memory and thus our identity. Here in Europe, Guernica is part of us. When the Baghdad Museum was looted, when the Buddhas of Bamiyan were destroyed in Afghanistan, we lose a bit of our common humanity. This film tells the tale of a man who fought so that today, the collective memory the Louvre harbors does not vanished. The Mona Lisa still smiles back at us.
Pierre Pochart is a senior investigative reporter for Canal Plus network. Six years ago, he fell in love with Jacques Jaujard’s incredible story and started doing what he does best, investigating. The incredible adventure he unveiled speaks for itself. There was no doubt in his mind that it had to be turned into a film. The Man Who Saved the Louvre exists because of his knowledge, creativity and driving passion.
Jean-Pierre Devillers is an award-winning filmmaker who has been directing documentaries for 25 years. Recently, his daring documentary tribute to the late director Maurice Pialat, Love Exists, was selected for the 2007 Cannes Film Festival. He also directed A la vie à la mort, the original documentary that inspired the widely successful French movie The Intouchables.