If you can, imagine the following: you have lived a relatively peaceful life. Your family is comfortably settled without major problems. There are haters, but they have little to no effect on your day to day schedule. Then you are othered and everything you know is about to go out the window.
Nearly 40 years later, Adele’s niece, Maria Altmann, is herself a newlywed. But the city she has known her entire life has turned against her after the Nazi Invasion. Suddenly, her Jewish faith has made her, her family, and her co-religionists outsiders. Forced out of her home and praying that her husband is released from prison, she has two choices. She can stay and hope that this is the worst of it. Or try to get out and save her family’s legacy from abroad.
A literary companion to the 2015 film, Woman in Gold, this book is wonderful. The switch between Adele in 1903 and Maria in the late 1930’s is seamless. Though history tells us that Maria would get out of Europe and eventually reclaim her family’s property, the question of when and how holds the reader until the last page.
History is a funny thing. We try to forget, but it always come back when we least expect it. And sometimes, when our history comes back, it allows us to make peace with the past.
Maria Altmann ( nee Bloch-Bauer) lived a charmed life during her early years. The daughter of an influential and wealthy Jewish Viennese family, she lived comfortably until World War II. Then the Nazis invaded Austria. Maria and her husband barely escaped, leaving everyone and everything they loved behind in Vienna. Among her family’s possessions that was confiscated by the Nazis was the portrait of Maria’s aunt, Adele Bloch- Bauer, painted by famed painter Gustav Klimt.
The new film, Woman In Gold, is the story of Maria’s fight to regain possession of the painting and other works of art that the Nazis confiscated from her family.
The film sees Maria during very different stages of her life. Helen Mirren plays the elderly Maria and Tatiana Maslany plays the younger Maria. Fighting along with Maria is Randol Schoenberg (Ryan Reynolds), a young lawyer whose family has been long connected to Maria’s family.
Helen Mirren, is well, Helen Mirren. She is one of those actresses who never fails to displease an audience. Her Maria is an elderly woman who goes back to Vienna despite the ghosts and the memories that linger. As the younger Maria, Tatiana Maslany proves why she is one of the best young actresses in the business. Ryan Reynolds, in stepping out of his comfort zone to play Randol, a young lawyer who not only comes to understand and appreciate his heritage, but also knows when it’s time to fight the big boys.