A Review of the Movie 'Woman in Gold'

A Review of the Movie 'Woman in Gold'
The title of the painting 'Woman in Gold' is really a misnomer as it was changed by the Nazis who looted this and other art before WW II. I will discuss the painting’s real identity and this fascinating true story.

The movie opens with Klimt’s model (Adele Bloch Bauer) who happens to be Maria Altmann’s aunt. Maria’s uncle hired Klimt to paint his wife Adele.
As Hitler begins his terrorist regime against Jews in Austria, Adele worries about the future.

The real name of the Klimt painting discussed in the movie is "Portrait of Adele Bloch Bauer I."

Maria Altmann (played by Helen Mirren) along with her young lawyer – inexperienced in art restitution - Randy Schoenberg (played by Ryan Reynolds) make star performances.
An Austrian journalist Hubertus Czerin (played by Daniel Bruhl) helps the Americans in finding the important documentation.

They are on location in Vienna, Austria where Altmann once lived before she and her husband were forced to flee the country. Schoenberg’s grandparents also came to the US from Austria.

The 'Woman in Gold' painting, known as the "Mona Lisa of Austria" would hang in the Belvedere Museum in Vienna for sixty years until…
Altmann addresses 'justice' and the fact that people (especially the young) would 'forget' what atrocities happened during the war.

Despite Altmann’s reluctant return to Austria with her lawyer, she imagines the happier times in her life with her sister and aunt, sitting at an outside café or dancing at her own wedding.
She also has flashbacks of her flight from her native country, her severely ill father, and family.
In reality, she said she would never have left her sick father, but instead waited until after he passed away.

The movie has episodes of suspense when they are literally running from the Nazi police, are successful in meeting a waiting car, board a plane to Cologne, and escape to their final destination: America.

To no avail on their first trip to Austria, they attend a meeting of the Restitution Committee in Vienna who declare that the painting was willed to the museum.

Schoenberg discovered that no one had actually seen Adele’s will, but when they did the research (with Czerin’s help) they saw that she had in fact willed the painting to the Belvedere.

But, as fate would have it, Adele really didn’t own the painting, her husband did - solely.
And when he passed away in 1945, the painting was willed to his only remaining family: Maria and her sister.

The color 'gold' can be seen throughout the movie, from the opening scene of an artist (let's assume it's Klimt) applying gold leaf to the painting, to the warm colors of sunshine in the streets, the ornate Austrian buildings, to the wallpaper in the arbitration room in Vienna.

Upon returning to Los Angeles, Schoenberg Googles: 'Woman in Gold' and realizes its value is estimated at $1.8 million. He is determined to resume the quest to recover the Klimt painting for Altmann (and selfishly for himself and his family).

Nine months later he purchases a Klimt catalog that shows "The Portrait of Adele Bloch Bauer I" on its cover.
With his law degree, he realizes that there were three criteria that applied in this case that would allow them to be able to file a lawsuit against the Austrian government – which they proceed to do.

The case would advance to the US Supreme Court where the Chief Justice declared that they could take Austria to court.

Altmann ultimately sought compensation as well as the return of her beloved painting. She always remembered her parents asking that she always 'remember them'.

The arbitration panel declared that Adele’s will wasn’t legally binding, the paintings were stolen, and so the "Woman in Gold" and other Klimts were returned to their rightful owner: Maria Altmann.

Despite the request of the Belvedere Museum to continue to exhibit the painting, Altmann decided to bring the paintings back to the US with her.

She sold the "Portrait of Adele Bloch Bauer I" to Ronald Lauder, president and co-founder of the Neue Galerie in New York City, with the condition that it remains on permanent display.

You can own the "Woman in Gold" DVD, available here from Amazon.com.

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This content was written by Camille Gizzarelli. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Camille Gizzarelli for details.