The Monuments Men (Sony Pictures/Columbia Pictures)

George Clooney led a cast of thousands across Germany and to the English coast to shoot the World War II comedy-drama that opens on February 7th.

Directed, co-written by and starring Clooney, The Monuments Men (opening February 7) took Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman and Cate Blanchett on a trip that began in Berlin, with stops at small German towns in the Harz region, to shoot the based-in-fact story about a team tasked with saving art during World War II. Production later hopped across the English Channel to film in Cambridge, and along the U.K. coast by the Medieval town of Rye.

Berlin plays particular importance in the tale, both thematically and for its trove of Third Reich leftovers like the abandoned Krampnitz military base. The complex on the city’s outskirts, also seen in the 2009 film Inglourius Basterds, has become something of an unofficial tourist attraction. A fence that’s easily circumvented surrounds a sprawl of crumbling barracks that are plastered with a mix of real Nazi regalia, Soviet stampings, movie props and modern street art.

Cate Blanchett
says of Berlin, “It did feel like one of the perfect places to shoot the film, [which] does deal with, ‘What is the importance of culture, and would you die for it?’ It is a country that’s absolutely had to, since the second World War, ask itself massive moral questions, and it’s reforged its identity based on culture. The amount of artists living and working in Berlin is unparalleled.” Damon adds, “I loved working there. I’ve worked there before on the second Bourne film. So I’ve spent a lot of time in Berlin. It’s one of my favorite cities in the world.”

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