Have you seen the new movie Woman in Gold? I saw it recently and was quite impressed! The title of the movie references a painting by Gustav Klimt, Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I, which I saw in-person when I lived in Vienna as a child. Much of the movie is set in Vienna so, while it struck quite a nostalgic chord for me, the plot was still wildly compelling.
Starring Helen Mirren and Ryan Reynolds, the movie is based on the real life of Maria Altmann, an aging escapee of the Holocaust, who enlists the help of a young lawyer to take the Austrian government to court in order to reclaim Klimt’s portrait of her beloved Aunt. The painting, along with other valuables, had been taken from her Jewish family’s home by Nazis just before WWII.
Looking back, it’s harrowing to think of the potential pillaging which proceeded the path many works of art took to reach my view as I stood awe-struck in museums across Europe in 1995. The art restitution movement only really began to reach fever pitch, certainly in Austria at least, in 1998. How much of my young cultural exposure was a result of Nazism? But this sort of reflection, uncomfortable as it may be, is perhaps why this story is so powerful.
From USA Today:
Mirren said she felt the weight of keeping history alive in conveying Altmann’s tale — particularly for younger generations.
“There’s the line I added to the script: ‘Because people forget, you know. Especially the young.’ And it’s true,” she says. “We are losing the generation of people who had firsthand experience of (the Holocaust). I think the pain and the trauma of it was so profound they couldn’t speak about it for a long time and it’s only toward the end of their life they began to articulate what had happened to them, to remember it and live it again.”
Even the trailer gets me a little choked up. Have you seen it? Will you? Want to hear more about my super 90’s childhood in Austria? Leave it in the comments below…