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Clooney, Murray and Damon call for the return of the Parthenon marbles to Athens

12 February 2014 / 15:02:30  GRReporter
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The title of their new film, "The Monuments Men", could not be more appropriate for the occasion as commented by the Greek newspaper "Ethnos". A few days after the statements by film director and actor George Clooney in support of the Greek and international demands for the return of the Parthenon marbles to Athens, Bill Murray and Matt Damon join him too.

The three of them arrived in the UK to promote the film adaptation of Robert Edsel’s non-fiction work "The Monuments Men". The action takes place during World War II, when Adolf Hitler destroyed many works of art. A group of historians and museum curators unite in an attempt to prevent Europe’s millenary history from being destroyed by the Nazis. Their mission is successful and, after the war, the works of art are returned to their owners.

During the press conference for the film, which took place at the National Gallery in London, George Clooney reiterated his opinion that it would be a good thing if the British Museum gave back to Greece the Parthenon marbles seized by Lord Elgin about 200 years ago. "It was good that they were here in London but now they have to be returned," said the actor.

He had announced his position for the first time last Saturday in Berlin, during the promotion of his film there. In reply to a question asked by a Greek journalist, Clooney said that "it would be nice if the marbles went back to Greece."

He was asked the same question again, during yesterday's press conference in London. "I did a little research just to make sure I wasn’t completely out of my mind. Even in England the polling is in favour of returning the Parthenon marbles," replied Clooney.

He pointed out that the Vatican and the "Getty " museum in Los Angeles had already returned parts of the sculptures, adding that the best that could be done with a broken work of art was to return it in the best possible condition. Regarding the accusation directed at him on Saturday, namely that he was "just an American who does not understand," the actor said with a smile, "This is probably right".

However, Matt Damon added in a particularly critical manner, "That can’t always be the British default position. I mean seriously, it’s not actually an argument to say we are Americans we don’t get it."

Then Clooney said, "I do think it's worth having an open discussion", adding that he does not intend to reveal his cards yet.

"It was one of a hundred questions at a press conference, a Greek reporter asking me about the marbles - and I just thought it was probably a good idea if they found a way back at some point," he said.

Bill Murray agreed with his opinion and expressed his position, "It seems like it’s a problem all over the world. Who owns this work of art? Where did it come from? Do they have the right to give it back? I think it has had a very nice stay here, certainly. London’s gotten crowded, there’s plenty of room back there in Greece, plenty of room. England can take a lead on this kind of thing... letting art go back where it came from. If the marbles were all together the Greeks are nothing but generous – they’d loan it back every once in a while...like people do with artefacts," he said.

When asked by a reporter for the British newspaper "The Guardian" if he would visit the British Museum to see the marbles, Clooney replied that they had not got enough time, as they would depart for Paris that evening "to somehow insult the Parisians, something about the Mona Lisa and Italy".

The film "The Monuments Men" will be shown in Greek cinemas after 13 February.

Tags: HistoryCinemaGeorge ClooneyBill MurrayMatt DamonLondonSculpturesParthenonBritish MuseumThe Monuments Men
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