Maria Altman sought to regain a world famous painting of her aunt plundered by the Nazis during World War II. She did so not just to regain what was rightfully hers, but also to obtain some measure of justice for the death, destruction, and massive art theft perpetrated by the Nazis. Written by
Elyse J. Factor
The airliner the Altmanns flew from Vienna to Cologne was a Douglas DC-3 that was substituted for a Junkers JU-52 airliner. There are only eight airworthy JU-52's left in the world out of 4,845 built. There are over 400 DC-3's still flying as of 2016. See more »
When Randy buys the Klimt book at Barnes and Noble, the cashier looks at the back, says, "That will be $29," and hands the book back to him. She does not ring up the purchase on the cash register to include sales tax nor does she put the book into a bag with the receipt. See more »
We did everything we could and that's what matters. The past is the past and now we must let it go.
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Before seeing Woman in Gold, I read three to four reviews, ranging from "ordinary" to "extraordinary movie." I was more than curious, since I am an historian and secondary ed teacher, always looking for excellent historical films that remind us "why" we study history. This film presents a WWII story with superb storytelling. Woman in Gold is about a survivor of World War II, named Maria Altmann, a Viennese who wants a famous family painting by Gustav Klimt returned to her possession since it was stolen by the Nazis. She enlists the help of a family friend, who also has a WWII connection, although he is quite inexperienced for the challenge of taking on the Austrian government. The painting of her aunt is famous for its size, the gold leaf, and its early twentieth century modernity. Even if you are ignorant about art history, this "Mona Lisa" of Austria, the Woman in Gold, is recognizable to almost everyone else. Maria Altmann's connection to this stellar painting by Gustav Klimt is that it reminds her not only of her aunt, but the family, friends, and life style that she lost forever when she fled Vienna with little more than the clothes on her back. The fight she and Randy Schoenberg, yes - grandson of Arnold Schoenberg - are about to wage is insurmountable if you have studied recent Austrian attempts to conceal its Nazi past. Think Kurt Waldheim. Woman in Gold is told in two stories, one about the pursuit of justice, and the other flashbacks before and after the Nazis occupied Vienna, showing Maria's lost life. Edited together, you get enough background into the Holocaust to understand Maria Altmann's motivation to seek long-awaited justice not just for herself, but all the other people who lost everything with little to no hope of restitution. The director, screenwriter, set designer, and all the actors did a fabulous job of finding a balance between humor and poignancy. Woman in Gold complements those other wonderful WWII movies, like Downfall, Lucie Aubrac, The Pianist, by showing that WWII history is not dead, that new chapters are being written in the 21st century.
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