CLOONEY’S SONG: “The Monuments Men” director and star George Clooney and his co-stars have learned to whistle while they work. While being questioned by a cadre of largely star-struck international press after a screening of the new film, many of the crew, which includes Bob Balaban, Bill Murray, Jean Dujardin, John Goodman, Matt Damon, Hugh Bonneville, and Dimitri Leonidas, were moved to put their lips together and blow a few bars of a recurring musical theme written for the film by Oscar-nominated composer Alexandre Desplat. Clooney’s film, which opened Friday in the US, is showing in the Competition section of the Berlinale, but is not competing for any prizes.
“The Monuments Men” fictionalizes the true account of a group of mostly American art specialists who went to the front lines of World War II to try to regain works of art plundered by the Nazis, and return them to their rightful owners. Clooney said he made the movie in the hopes of doing something “a little less cynical,” and to “talk about a unique group of people who did something for the first time in the history of war — the victor didn’t keep the spoils, they gave it back.”
The balance between serious and silly continued throughout the event, with Damon, Clooney and Murray often teasing the gathered reporters. Clooney was also commended for his support for both Darfur and the protests in Ukraine.
The last question provoked both laughs and gasps, when a reporter from Greece asked Clooney for his proposal to, as she said, “reclaim our monuments back from England,” referring to the debate over the Elgin Marbles and other treasures currently in the British Museum.
“I think you have a very good case to make about your artifacts and I think it wouldn’t be a bad thing if they were returned,” said Clooney, a Monuments Man to the last. “I think that would be a very fair, very nice thing to happen.”