The latest TIME magazine devotes four pages to George Clooney’s new movie about the “Monuments Men.”
It’s also, to be fair, one of the war’s more unusual stories. Art and antiquities experts hardly make for the typical subject of a Hollywood war film, but that’s what the movie’s eponymous subjects were. The men of the Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives section of the Allied armies were charged with safeguarding cultural treasures threatened by the fighting and retrieving those stolen and stockpiled as future trophies for Adolf Hitler’s bizarre conceit: the Führermuseum.
In the film, which opens Feb. 7, Balaban and Clooney–who directed and, with Heslov, co-wrote the script–star alongside Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman, Jean Dujardin (the Best Actor Oscar winner from The Artist) and Hugh Bonneville (Downton Abbey’s Lord Grantham) as fictionalized versions of the professional curators and art historians who donned fatigues to save works such as Michelangelo’s Bruges Madonna, Vermeer’s The Astronomer and Jan van Eyck’s 15th century Ghent Altarpiece. What’s also notable about The Monuments Men is that the story it’s based on isn’t over yet. As Robert Edsel, who wrote the book that inspired the movie, puts it, “At the war’s ending, the work of the Monuments Men was really just beginning.”
If the story behind the movie interests you, perhaps you’ll want to revisit Balto’s Nose, the novel Thomas Thibeault discussed with Carolina Journal Radio and with the John Locke Foundation’s Shaftesbury Society in 2012.