I pass the Holocaust exhibit at Katz Jewish Community Center in Cherry Hill, NJ, each day when I go to my yoga class. It's a constant reminder of the atrocities that Jewish people endured during World War II. I shudder every time I look at the pictures on display.
Feelings about these times were stirred deep down as I watched Woman in Gold. The film is based on the true story of a Jewish woman's journey to reclaim her family's artworks that were seized by the Nazis. She aims to seek justice for what happened to her family more than 60 years ago after being forced to flee her Vienna home.
A Stellar Cast
Academy Award winner Helen Mirren plays the lead as Maria Altmann, an elderly Jewish woman who hires Randy Schoenberg, a young lawyer (played by Ryan Reynolds), to help her regain her family possessions, the most famous among them Gustav Klimt's painting of Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I, also known as "Woman in Gold." We learn through flashbacks and storytelling that Adele is Maria's aunt and how close she and her sister were to her aunt while growing up.
Maria and Randy embark upon a major multiyear battle that takes them to Vienna—back to many difficult memories that Maria must face, including her deep sadness about leaving her parents during the Nazi occupation, while she and her husband escaped to the United States. The case hits the Austrian establishment at its heart and goes all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
"People see a masterpiece," Maria says. "I see my aunt, a woman who used to talk to me about life. We should be reunited with what is rightfully ours." That's all I'll reveal; you'll have to watch the movie to learn more about this historic lawsuit.
An Interview With Helen Mirren
I admire Helen Mirren not only for the strong females she plays in movies and on stage, but also for her powerful personality in real life. In April, I had the opportunity to see Helen, who at 69 looks absolutely amazing and ever stylish, be interviewed at the Women in the World Summit in New York City. She highlighted how aging has affected her life.
"One of the pleasures of getting older is you see changes," said Helen. "When my mom was growing up, it was inconceivable that women could read the news." About women in the media, she commented, "We're half the human race. Change roles for women in life and you will change roles for women in drama." (Go, Helen! Go, Helen!)
Helen shared that she waited until she was 50 to get married. "The most important thing to teach our daughters is to gain financial independence," she said. "It's been a driving force in my life."
See the Real "Woman in Gold" Masterpiece
I just read in the New York Times that Neue Galerie at 86th Street and Fifth Avenue in New York City has the real Gustav Klimt masterpiece of "Adele Bloch-Bauer: Woman in Gold" on display through September 7. According to the Times: "This small show features the portrait along with eight other Klimts and an assortment of jewelry and decorative objects typifying the luxurious lifestyle of Adele and Ferdinand Bloch-Bauer, the collectors who commissioned it. Ronald S. Lauder (from the Estee Lauder cosmetic family) purchased the painting in 2006 for $135 million."
*Disclosure: Anchor Bay Entertainment provided me with a copy of the Blu-ray movie and a $100 gift card. My opinions, however, are entirely my own, and I have not been paid to publish positive statements about the movie.
This post originally appeared on aboomerslifeafter50.com.