One year after taking home his second Academy Award as one of the producers of Argo, George Clooney is hoping for a return ticket to the Dolby Theater with The Monuments Men. The film, due for release this December, revolves around a group of art historians and museum curators uniting in an effort to recover works of art stolen by the Nazis before Hitler can destroy them. Clooney directs and stars in the film, which he co-wrote the film with longtime collaborator Grant Heslov (he was also Oscar-adorned for Argo) on material based on the book The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History by Robert M. Edsel. Clooney recruited a strong ensemble cast which includes Matt Damon (whose Elysium opens today), Bill Murray, The Artist‘s Jean Dujardin, John Goodman, Bob Balaban and Cate Blanchett (who’s currently earning raves and whispers of award talk on her own, for her performance in Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine, currently in limited release.)
Clooney plays George Stout, a real life veteran of World War I and renowned expert on art conservatism, who leads a crackpot, fact-based team called the Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives Program. The Monuments Men were established in 1943 to protect culturally significant artifacts in war-torn areas during World War II. Some of the historic pieces found by the Monuments Men included Michelangelo’s “Madonna of Bruges” and Jan van Eyck’s “Ghent Altarpiece.”
The Monuments Men marks Clooney’s fifth film behind the camera following Confessions of a Dangerous Mind (2002), Good Night…and Good Luck (2005, for which he received a Best Director Oscar nomination), Leatherheads (2008) and The Ides of March (2011, which earned him an Adapted Screenplay Oscar nomination shared with Beau Willimon and Grant Heslov.)
Blanchett’s character, Rose Valland, wrote the novel Le Font de l’Art which served as the basis for the 1964 John Frankenheimer film The Train, which starred Burt Lancaster. The film had tackled similar subject matter as The Monuments Men, as it documented the attempted theft of works of art secured on a train to Germany during World War II.
The Monuments Men hits theaters December 18th. Take a look at the trailer below: