“The Monuments Men,” the latest movie directed by and starring George Clooney, takes a plunge into the world of art history during World War II.
As Hitler’s forces plunder and destroy Europe’s cultural heritage, a band of Allied art experts is dispatched to the war front to help U.S. forces rescue various masterpieces. The movie is based on the book “The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History” by Robert M. Edsel.
As Clooney says in the movie’s trailer, which you can watch above, “If you destroy an entire generation of people’s culture, it’s as if they never existed. That’s what Hitler wants and it’s the one thing we can’t allow.”
Clooney plays George Stout, who in real life was a conservator at Harvard’s Fogg Art Museum when the war broke out. Stout became the de facto leader of the unlikely band of art heroes who braved battle to help save Europe’s cultural patrimony.
Matt Damon plays James Rorimer, an art expert at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. (He would eventually become that museum’s director.) Cate Blanchett plays French art historian Rose Valland, a member of the French Resistance who helped the Allies rescue cultural treasures.
Edsel’s book is based on historical fact but he also invents dialogue to create dramatic scenes. The movie, which also stars John Goodman, Bill Murray and Bob Balaban, is scheduled to open in December in the U.S.