George Clooney's Monuments Men Touches Chicago Legal Community

During college, my double majoring in Drama and Political Science didn't make sense to most back in the day. But watching George Clooney's body of work over the years, you know he gets it. Whether it's chronicling Sen. Joseph McCarthy's Communist witch hunts in Good Night, and Good Luck to The Ides of March to producing Academy Award winner Argo to Monuments Men, now playing, his films always have a point of view.

I came across Clooney and writing partner Grant Heslov's Monuments Men interview with Charlie Rose by accident last Saturday night, then stayed for its entirety. Clooney not only stars in the film, but also directs it and has written the screenplay along with Heslov.

The Chicago Bar Association's legal seminar this week, "Protecting Cultural Property during Armed Conflict and Recovering Stolen Art", timed to coincide with the film's opening. The subject? Continuing legal and ethical issues in attempts to recover art stolen in armed conflicts. Distinguished Research Professor of Law Patty Gerstenblith, Director of DePaul University's College of Law's Center for Art, Museum and Cultural Heritage Law, was the speaker. Her presentation was riveting, a term not usually used for required continuing legal education seminars for lawyers.

Seeing Monuments Men a few days later, the legal seminar served as a guide to the film in a way, especially with the emphasis on Michaelangelo's sculpture, Madonna and Child, his only sculpture to leave Italy in his lifetime, now at the Church of Our Lady in Bruges, Belgium. Known as the "Bruges Madonna", stolen by the Nazis in WWII, the story of its recovery alone, is enough for a movie. But there's more art work recovered in this film. Lots more.

One of the rare films I have seen to occasion applause at the end. I saw it at a theater 125 miles north of Cincinnati.

Don't want to be a spoiler, so I will only say this. George's dad, Nick Clooney, has the last word in this one, and frankly, steals the show.

Lonna Saunders is an attorney and may be reached at