We bring you the facts about George Clooney’s latest film…

THE MONUMENTS MEN is released in Irish cinemas this week, and we have gathered together the facts behind George Clooney’s latest film…

1. Who Were The Monuments Men?
The Monuments Men were a team of dedicated art historians, architects and artists recruited to track down the millions of artwork plundered by the Nazis from Jewish owners, private collections, and national museums in occupied countries, some even hidden deep down in salt mines or in mountain-top castles across southern Germany and Austria.

2. Fifth Movie Directed By George Clooney
THE MONUMENTS MEN is the fifth movie to be directed by George Clooney. Other directing roles include CONFESSIONS OF A DANGEROUS MIND, GOOD NIGHT AND GOOD LUCK, LEATHERHEADS and THE IDES OF MARCH. Clooney says with twice the budget of any other movie he’s directed, it’s the biggest project he’s ever tackled. Luckily his magic touch meant the film finished shooting five days early and came in $5 million under budget.

3. How Tough Does George Clooney Find It To Direct & Act At The Same Time?
Clooney admits that acting and directing at the same time isn’t an easy job. He recently said that it’s no fun doing both jobs, running back and forth to the monitors to see if he’s terrible or not. However, Clooney is well aware that his insanely good looks help to sell a film and says that he’ll keep acting on screen as long as it helps his movies.

4. How Much Of It Is A True Story?
Clooney says that 80% of the film is completely true and accurate, with almost all of the scenes actually happening in real life. Sometimes they happened with other characters, sometimes it happened in smaller dimension. But that’s moviemaking for you. Plus all the character names have been changed, they were real people, and Clooney didn’t want to give real people flaws.

5. Judging A Movie By It’s Cover
Producer Grant Heslov picked up an airport edition of Robert Edsel’s book ‘The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History’ . “I saw the cover, read it and thought it would make a great film,” says Heslov. “We’ve always loved the idea of setting a film in World War II and this was a fresh angle. It’s adventurous and isn’t like anything that’s been seen before.”

6. Which Artworks Were Affected During The War?
Nearly every museum in Europe rushed to hide their collections in safe repositories before the Allies and the Nazis first traded blows. The Louvre in Paris, for instance, sped the Mona Lisa to safety in the back of an ambulance. London’s National Gallery sent trainloads of masterpieces to remote north Wales where they were secured in an underground quarry.

7. Recreating Art
All of the artistic masterpieces in the movie needed to be recreated and made to look authentic. High quality digital images of expensive paintings were made, then skilled painters added another layer of finish and texture to make sure they looked real when they were turned in the light. The painted panels of the Ghent altarpiece were built from scratch and carefully aged and grained to a point appropriate for a 500-year-old artifact.

8. Why don’t we know more about The Monuments Men?
Much of The Monument’s Men vital contribution has been barely recognized. For example Rose Valland, a spy played in the movie by Cate Blanchett, was initially accused of being a Nazi collaborator by her fellow Parisians, she survived and continued working in the art world without much acclaim. Only half a dozen people turned up at her village funeral when she died in 1980 to mourn the woman who had succeeded more than most, in her words, “to save a little bit of the beauty of the world.”

9. Are Any Of The Monuments Men Still Alive?
One of last surviving Monuments Men is Harry Ettlinger, who inspired the character of Sam Epstein in the film. It feels good he says, to see that his life has been depicted on screen: “At the time I didn’t understand the importance of the task. I didn’t have a deep sense of what I was doing. I was just doing a job and was good at it. Instead of taking things, we gave them back. That was unique in the history of civilisation. I did something worthwhile.”

10. When Can I See It?
THE MONUMENTS MEN is at Irish cinemas from February 14th