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Author of 'Monuments Men' Pleased With Movie

26 May, 2014 By: Chris Tribbey

Robert Edsel, author of several books about art treasures preserved during and after World War II, doesn’t like it when writers complain about the changes made when bringing their stories to the big screen.

When George Clooney and fellow filmmaker Grant Heslov came to Edsel about turning his novel The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History into a film, he had just one request: Respect the over-arching principles of what took place, and “then by all means make the changes you need to make the film exciting and dramatic. We want people to go see it.”

“I made it clear up front, from my perspective, that the writing of the books was made with a film in mind, to tell as many people as possible this remarkable story, a giant hole in our collective knowledge of World War II history, and highlight to people the importance of protecting cultural treasures,” he said.

Out on DVD and Blu-ray Disc combo pack, The Monuments Men stars Clooney, Matt Damon, Cate Blanchett, Bill Murray and John Goodman, and tells the story of the real-life men and women who risked their lives to recover and return tens of thousands of artworks stolen by the Nazis during World War II, with some losing their lives during the process.

Edsel said Clooney and Heslov “hit the mark just perfectly, an outstanding job,” balancing what’s in the novel and what’s needed to make an exciting story that runs under two hours.

“They’ve made a really good film,” he said. “My hat’s off to them.”

The Blu-ray combo pack includes featurettes that highlight the making of the film, including “George Clooney’s Mission,” which has interviews with Clooney and the rest of the cast, and “Marshaling the Cast,” a cast discussion on the real people they portray.

“The Blu-ray Disc is fantastic, and they did a wonderful job interviewing the actors off-set, to find out why it was important for them to do this,” Edsel said. “Each one of them, to a person, said what I said 12 years ago: ‘I’ve never heard of this story before. Why?’”

Exclusive to the Blu-ray are the featurettes “In Their Own Words,” which offers insight into the “Monuments Men,” and includes an interview with Harry Ettlinger, one of the last surviving members; and “A Woman Amongst the Monuments Men,” a discussion with Blanchett on her character, Claire Simone. The Blu-ray also includes deleted scenes.

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