We were delighted to attend the UK premiere of The Monuments Men in Leicester Square London this week. Walking the red carpet with stars we’ve long admired – George Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray and John Goodman to name but four, was a thrill.

Directed by George Clooney and co-written with his producing partner Grant Heslov, the film is based on the true story of the greatest treasure hunt in history. It focuses on seven over-the-hill, out-of-shape museum directors, artists, architects, curators, and art historians who went to the front lines of WWII to rescue the world’s artistic masterpieces from Nazi thieves and return them to their rightful owners.  They found themselves in a race against time to avoid the destruction of 1000 years of culture; they would risk their lives to protect and defend humankind’s greatest achievements.

In keeping with films such as The Great Escape, The Dirty Dozen, and The Guns of Navarone a great ensemble cast gave us a great romp through this period in our history, and it certainly made you think on what these brave people achieved and left you wanting to learn more.

Only recently a whole treasure trove of art was found in a Munich apartment – 1,500 works worth $1.5 billion, paintings by Matisse, Picasso, Dix, and other artists that had been thought to be lost.

Now I am not one to spend time trawling through endless galleries and museums, yet I do feel to have lost the countless works of arts looted by the Nazi’s would have been a catastrophe.

Of course, each generation will create, discover and invent works of arts; and equally, they too will be held in high esteem. Tragically this story may have happened during WWII, yet it continues to this day, as demonstrated by the events that followed the 2003 invasion of Iraq and the subsequent looting and destruction of that country’s most famous museums and libraries.

There is a rather poignant line in the film from Clooney’s character, Lt. Commander George Stout  “… if you take their culture away, you can kill them.  You can murder their families, but if you take away their culture, that’s when the society breaks down.”

That to me perfectly encapsulates the importance on our cultural history; what price do we put on that?

Until next time…