London shines in Woman in Gold
Date posted: 08.04.2015
This Friday will see a true life story brought to the silver screen as Woman in Gold hits UK cinemas.
The film charts the real life story of Maria Altmann, an elderly Jewish refugee in Los Angeles, who took the Austrian state to court to demand the return of priceless family heirlooms seized by the Nazis during the Anschluss.
A bright spark
The golden woman of the film's title is the Gustav Klimt painting Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I, which was almost a decade old when Maria Altmann was born in Vienna in 1916. The portrait's subject Adele, Maria's aunt, was a wealthy Jewish patron of the arts, and the painting hung in her renowned Viennese salon until WWII, when the threat of the concentration camps forced the family to leave Austria and never come back. All of their belongings, five Klimt paintings among them, were seized by the Nazi state and never returned.
In the late 1990s, Woman in Gold catches up with an elderly Maria (Helen Mirren) as she starts on a journey to reclaim her family's possessions. Enlisting the help of a bold but inexperienced young lawyer (Ryan Reynolds), Maria prepares to face up to the Austrian establishment and the US Supreme Court, and to dredge up difficult memories of her own past along the way.
Glimmers of recognition
Woman in Gold's twists and turns take the film's action across the world. However, much of the shoot took place here in London, with locations in the capital doubling convincingly for sites in Vienna and Los Angeles.
Location manager David Broder lists just some of the spots which doubled for international locations in the film: "RIBA, Mansion House, Goldsmiths Hall, One Great George Street, Blythe House, The Rosewood Hotel and a business park in Hemel Hempstead doubled for Viennese and LA locations, as well as the Supreme Court in Washington and legal offices in Downtown LA."
Audiences might also be surprised to find that dramatic scenes in the District Court of Los Angeles were actually filmed at the International Coffee Organisation HQ in Fitzrovia's Berners Street.