Woman in Gold showed me that movie theaters still can fill up with people, considering for the past several months I’ve found myself in theaters with only a smattering of people. It’s funny, but it happens. Woman in Gold, though, was a movie that deserved to be experienced by everyone. It was a touching film on a difficult subject; restitution.
There are people to this day that still refuse to believe that the holocaust never happened and while that is a problem in and of itself, that countries… states with more power than the richest people in the whole world now refuse to return precious items to those who suffered the most is absolutely unforgivable. Woman in Gold is the true story, regardless of how “true” it is, of a woman whose goal was to get back what was hers, and nothing more.
Maria Altmann (played by the talented Helen Mirren) lived in Austria during World War II and was one of those who were most affected by the invasion by Nazi Germany. Her families possessions were stripped, catalogued, and stolen by those who would continue to oppress the Jewish people for decades to come. This film takes place decades after the war, but it features frequent flash backs to this time so you can see, feel, and understand the pain she went through. The majority of the film takes place in the nineties as Maria and her lawyer, Randol (Randy) Schoenberg (played by Ryan Reynolds) continue to fight against the Austrian government to retrieve prized familial possessions which have now become State Treasures.
Seeing a government abuse its power simply so it can erase years and decades of crimes is bad enough when you only have the cliff notes, but seeing it unfold over time makes that pain tenfold. The trials, depositions, deals, and so on become tiring the longer they go on as the Austrian government seems to do everything in its power to further beat down Maria because to Austria they see a priceless antique painting and to Maria she sees her aunt. In my opinion Maria should be able to use the painting as a dining room table and it shouldn’t make a damn difference to anyone. It isn’t priceless because of what it’s been through to the state of Austria, it’s priceless because of the horrors it saw throughout decades of separation from its rightful owner.
Maria was never in it for the millions that she would be owed, she truly only wanted the painting of her aunt back.
This movie was powerful and it is one of those where a review simply cannot ever do it justice. The power of a movie isn’t always based in the dialogue or the acting, sometimes it’s simply based in the message that is being told.