Wednesday, February 26, 2014

What, you may ask, do the Monuments Men have to do with character education for children?

The answer is "Lots!"

To begin, we have Robert M. Edsel.  He is the modern man who has single handedly put the Monuments Men back on the map, so to speak.  He is the author of several books about the work of the Monuments Men,

such as RESCUING DA VINCI: Hitler and the Nazis Stole Europe’s Great Art – America and her Allies Recovered It, published in 2006. 

And THE MONUMENTS MEN: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History, published in 2010.

And SAVING ITALY: The Race to Rescue a Nation’s Treasures from the Nazis, published in early 2013.  In fact he was here in Kansas City just last spring as a guest of Rainy Day Books promoting this book.

And most recently ROSE VALLAND: Resistance at the Museum, published in October 2013.  Remember Rose’s name…she is really Cate Blanchett.

Mr. Edsel’s  movie THE MONUMENTS MEN is based on the 2010 book mentioned above.  It was due to be released this December just in time for the Academy Awards, but at the last minute the producer George Clooney declared that some of the special effects were just too “cheesy” for his movie and that they simply didn’t have enough skilled people to bring it in on time.
And so they re-scheduled the film, co-produced by Columbia Pictures/20th Century Fox and Babelsberg Studio, to be released on February 7, 2014 which of course is today.

Just to whet our appetite,  please note that the cast includes George Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman, Jean Dujardin (of  The Artist fame) Bob Balaban, Hugh Bonneville (of  Downton Abbey fame) and last but not least, Cate Blanchett in the role of Rose Valland.   

More about the movie: 

Based on fact, the film focuses on an Allied platoon made up of seven museum directors, curators, and art historians, tasked with going into Germany in the closing stages of World War II to rescue artworks requisitioned by the Nazis and returning them to their rightful owners.

Principal photography began in early March 2013 at the Babelsberg Studios in Potsdam, Germany, and in the Berlin-Brandenburg region and the Harz, where the City of Osterwieck was a particularly important place for the outdoor scenes.  A cast of thousands was needed for the military scenes.  Some of the scenes, including flights and American war base footage, were filmed at the Imperial War Museum Duxford, Cambridgeshire UK.  Filming was scheduled to last until the end of June 2013, wrapping up in Rye, East Sussex.

So to learn more about this Robert M. Edsel, the person who set all this activity in motion...

He was born in 1956 in Oak Park, Illinois, and raised in Dallas, Texas.  He is the son of Norma Louise (a housewife) and Alpha Ray Edsel (a stockbroker).  At one time, he was a nationally ranked tennis player.
In 1981 Robert Edsel began his business career in oil and gas exploration…in Texas, one would think.  His company, Gemini Exploration, pioneered the use of horizontal drilling technology throughout the early 1990s.  Gemini Exploration grew from a company with eight employees to almost 100.

By 1995, Gemini had become the second most active driller of horizontal wells in the United States and Robert Edsel sold the company’s assets to Union Pacific Resources Company.

So that answers the question of “Where did he and his wealth come from?” and the next question of course would be “What led him to the Monuments Men?”

Stay tuned for the next installment.

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