The Woman in Gold: A film recommendation
News Arnulf Hinkel – 12.07.2017
During the more than 6,000 years people have known and used gold, the precious metal was never just a mere means of payment or investment. Gold has influenced numerous highly developed cultures and has been an integral part of our everyday life to this very day. Therefore, this irregular series of articles on our website focuses on the cultural aspects of gold.
Vienna, 1938: Following the invasion by the German troops, a systematic expropriation wave has started in Austria, just as in Nazi Germany before. While the Jewish Bloch family is able to escape to the US in time, their possessions are left behind in Austria, among them an Art Nouveau portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer by the famous painter Gustav Klimt. 50 years later, Adele’s niece Maria Altmann (Helen Mirren) decides to reclaim the “Woman in Gold” from the Austrian state. However, the authorities refuse to return the world-famous work of art, known as “Mona Lisa of Austria”, to its rightful owner. A bitter legal dispute ensues, which has far more at stake than the painting that is valued US$ 300 million, but also proves to be a fight against oblivion...
The Woman in Gold (UK/US 2015), which is largely based on true events, presents a strong plea against bureaucracy and the lack of a state-based sense of justice. Director Simon Curtis, known by his fictional biopic My Week with Marylin, made an artful, elaborate and moving film, with a top-notch cast even in supporting roles: actors such as Katie Holmes, Ryan Reynolds and Charles Dance, as well as Tatiana Maslany (well-known for her multiple roles in the TV show Orphan Black) and German actors Moritz Bleibtreu and Daniel Brühl provide the necessary emotional depth. That said, Helen Mirren, who is adding to her countless splendid performances with this role, steals the show. She alone would make The Woman in Gold a high-class viewing experience. For those disapproving of the fact that the film does not accurately reproduce all historical details, the documentary Stealing Klimt (UK 2006) by Jane Chablani is recommended viewing.