Woman in Gold, starring Helen Mirren and Ryan Reynolds, tells the true story of Maria Altmann, a woman in her 80s who entered into a legal battle with the Austrian government to recover the Gustav Klimt painting of her aunt, which was plundered by the Nazis during WWII.
Altmann was a Jewish refugee to the United States from occupied Austria. The film tells her family’s story of being persecuted, driven from their home, and murdered for the crime of being Jewish. It also tells the story of Altmann herself, who struggles with the ghosts of her pasts and her parents’ parting request to “remember them.” Over the course of the film, Altmann becomes a mother figure to her lawyer, Randol Schoenberg, the grandson of the Austrian composer, Arnold Schoenberg. In the process, she helps him re-connect with his own spiritual and ethnic heritage and his duty to those who have gone before him in faith. This would be a great movie to watch with the whole family.
Though it has a happy ending, Woman in Gold reminds us of the banality of evil, how entire cultures can come to see some segment of their fellow human beings as less than human. As G.K. Chesteron writes in Orthodoxy, we live in a time that is loath to admit the reality of evil, “If it be true (as it certainly is) that a man can feel exquisite happiness in skinning a cat, then the religious philosopher can only draw one of two deductions. He must either deny the existence of God, as all atheists do; or he must deny the present union between God and man, as all Christians do. The new theologians seem to think it a highly rationalistic solution to deny the cat.” The film is rated PG-13. Watch the trailer here: