George Clooney is filming ‘The Monuments Men’. Based on real life events, the movie tells the true story of a crew of art experts as they recovered works of Italian and European art stolen by the Nazis in World War II before Adolf Hitler destroyed them. Hitler and Hermann Göring were interested in art and expanded their personal collections through looting and other illegal means. During World War II, Hitler’s armies pillaged Europe’s finest art, including works by Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Jan van Eyck and Johannes Vermeer. The so-called “Monuments Men”, which the movie is based on, were a group of men and women from 13 nations, most of whom volunteered for service in the American government’s Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives unit. Many of them were museum directors, curators, artists, architects and archivists. Their job was to save as much of the culture of Europe as they could during combat. Behind enemy lines and often unarmed, they risked their lives scouring Europe to prevent the destruction of thousands of years of culture. ‘The Monuments Men’ is directed by Clooney, who also stars as George Stout, a lecturer on design and conservator at Harvard’s Fogg Art Museum turned American army lieutenant. Matt Damon plays American infantryman, and former curator and future director of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, James Rorimer. Cate Blanchett plays French art historian, French Resistance member and French military captain, Rose Valland. Other cast members include Bill Murray of ‘Ghostbusters’, John Goodman of TV’s ‘Roseanne’ and Hugh Bonneville of TV’s ‘Downton Abbey’. Clooney co-wrote the ‘The Monuments Men’ screenplay with Grant Heslov. The movie focuses on the race against time by the experts to chase down the stolen art. It really was a race because Hitler had catalogued the art he planned to collect, as well as the so-called “degenerate” works, including pieces by Paul Klee and Marc Chagall, that he despised and intended to destroy. The film is based on American author Robert M. Edsel’s book ‘The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History’, which recounts the experts’ story between D-Day and VE Day,. Principal photography on ‘The Monuments Men’ began in early March 2013 at the Babelsberg Studios in Potsdam, Germany and in the Berlin-Brandenburg region. Filming is scheduled to last until the end of June 2013 and it will wrap up in the UK. The film is scheduled for release on 18 December 2013 in the USA and 1 January 2014 in the UK. Edsel is also the author of ‘Rescuing Da Vinci: Hitler and the Nazis Stole Europe's Great Art, America and Her Allies Recovered It’. His latest book, ‘Saving Italy: the Race to Rescue a Nation’s Treasures from the Nazis’ focuses on two Monuments Men as they struggled to protect and save iconic masterpieces, including Da Vinci’s ‘The Last Supper’ and Michelangelo’s ‘David’.
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