I've got a call out to Robert Edsel -- founder of the Monuments Men Foundation for the Preservation of Art, which honors those who've spent decades scouring the globe for art stolen by Hitler and the Nazis -- about news that hit The Los Angeles Times yesterday: George Clooney told the paper he's going to co-write, direct and star in a big-screen adaptation of the St. Mark's and SMU grad's 2010 tome The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History. Said Clooney at the the Palm Springs Film Festival, "It's a fun movie because it could be big entertainment. It's a big budget, you can't do it small -- it's landing in Normandy."
Edsel, as you'll no doubt recall, made Big News back in '09, when he found two paintings hanging in SMU's Meadows Museum that he discovered were stolen from the Rothschild family in Paris in 1941. He and I chatted here about why it took SMU more than two years to acknowledge their provenance.
Concerning the Clooney film, this morning Edsel noted on his Facebook page: "I am so proud to share this news, and for people around the world to know more about the heroism of these men and women, the Monuments Men!"
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It's still very early in the film-making process: The movie's a go at Sony, but save for Clooney there's no cast. As for how it'll turn out, well, that too depends: Says The Descendants star and Ides of March director and, with Grant Heslov, co-writer, "I'm not opposed to doing a commercial film, I'm just opposed to doing a commercial film that doesn't feel organic to me. So if we're going to do a commercial film we thought, 'Let's do something that seems fun and actually have something to say.'" And as you may recall, Edsel's already made an extraordinary documentary on the subject of the Monuments Men: The Rape of Europa.