Helen Mirren and Ryan Reynolds star in this version of Maria Altmann’s attempts to reclaim Gustav Klimt’s famous painting of Adele Bloch-Bauer from the Austrian government. Vienna played itself in many scenes…
- Notable locations include Belvedere, the Rathaus, the Sacher Hotel, the Staatsoper, the Konzerthaus and the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna
- Book Klimt-themed entry tickets* for Vienna
- See also:
Where was The Woman in Gold filmed?
(The Academy of Fine Arts Vienna played a significant role)
Much of this 2015 biographical drama takes place in Vienna and features locations in the city.
We have “present day” shots as Maria and her lawyer treat with the authorities in Vienna.
And we have flashbacks to Vienna of the late 1930s. This was when the Nazis “confiscated” (i.e. stole) Klimt’s portrait of Maria’s aunt, a painting long known as The Woman in Gold rather than today’s Adele Bloch-Bauer I.
We identified as many Viennese locations as we could from watching the film. Mostly outdoor scenes; we struggled a bit with interiors, many of which were likely filmed elsewhere. For example, the film’s version of the exhibition gallery in Belvedere is the Great Hall of 1, Great George Street in Westminster, London!
Anyway, let us begin…
(Warning: may contain spoilers.)
Heldenplatz and Neue Burg
(The Neue Burg wing of the Hofburg appears a couple of times as background)
After the US scenes that begin the movie, Maria and Randol (her lawyer) arrive in Vienna, and we “see” them in a taxi driving across Heldenplatz square, past the equestrian statue of Archduke Karl and through the monumental Burgtor gateway.
We then catch a view of the Neue Burg out of the car window. (Which, incidentally, would mean the taxi was now driving back in exactly the opposite direction across Heldenplatz).
(Location of the outdoor café scene)
The journey continues, and the taxi comes to a stop (ostensibly on Neustiftgasse) outside an outdoor café. We have a flashback, where Maria sees her younger self with aunt Adele in that café.
This is Sankt-Ulrichs-Platz: a historical square around the Ulrichskirche church in Vienna’s 7th district.
The Ulrichskirche has origins in the 1200s, though today’s church is the early 18th-century iteration. The location appears again later and has appeared in other productions, such as the first episode of Vienna Blood.
(Front entrance to the hotel)
Our pair of protagonists then check in to their hotel…played by the prestigious Sacher Hotel opposite the rear of the Staatsoper opera house.
(The protagonists appear on foot here)
Maria and Randol then emerge from a columned arcade on Rooseveltplatz square (number 2), which leads away from Universitätstraße. The arcade fronts a specialist library of the University of Vienna.
Our pair turn the corner and look across to Maria’s former home where Frankgasse joins the square.
(The film version of the Altmann apartment building)
The trees you catch an occasional glimpse of actually surround the huge neogothic Votivkirche. The Altmann apartment would have had lovely views across the park to the church.
(The rear of the state opera house)
Maria and Randol then meet journalist Hubertus Czernin on the east side of the Staatsoper.
When we experience the conversation from Hubertus’s perspective, you can again see the Sacher Hotel in the background.
Belvedere art museums
We later witness the trio’s visit to Belvedere, to see “The Woman In Gold” (the Adele Bloch-Bauer portrait) on display.
The scene begins with a walk through the gardens leading away from Lower Belvedere palace. The camera follows the actors as they walk past, thus eventually revealing Upper Belvedere palace, still home to numerous Klimt paintings.
(Most people only see the front of the Rathaus. This side has the entrance to the library)
Another flashback follows shortly showing a Nazi parade. The cars drive down Felderstraße and the Swastika-covered building behind is the neogothic Rathaus: the seat of Vienna’s (left-wing) government.
(The columns now advertise the current exhibition in the neighbouring MUSA)
The camera pans across to reveal a young Maria and husband watching events beneath stone columns, which now front the Wien Museum MUSA contemporary art venue.
A little later, the young couple find their application to leave Austria rejected, a scene that might be in the inner courtyard of the Rathaus (?). They then walk down a couple of streets witnessing Nazi aggression first hand.
(A Nazi leans out of this window)
Initially, the couple walk north up Blutgasse in the city centre, then turn onto Domgasse (where Mozart once lived).
The shot where the Nazis throw leaflets from a window and evict people from the house is at Domgasse 6, for example.
(A different angle gives the house a fresh look)
The couple returns home. The exterior shots use the building on Frankgasse again, albeit with changes to its entrance portal and street signs (which had us following false trails for a while).
Academy of Fine Arts Vienna
(Fully refurbished since the film appeared)
We then return to the present day and another glimpse of Upper Belvedere as Maria and Randol gain access to the archives.
Shortly after, the two make their way across to a building marked as hosting the Kunst Restitutions Komitee (Committee for Art Restitution).
This building is the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna on Schillerplatz. As Randol notes in the film, the academy rejected Hitler’s application to study art there. The subsequent interior scenes also use the location.
The public committee proceedings take place in the academy’s central auditorium, for example, and the conversation with the Belvedere employee occurs in one of the corridors with its notable ceiling décor.
(The main entrance to Ulrichtskirche)
Maria walks back from the committee meeting through Sankt-Ulrichs-Platz (seen from another angle this time) with the steps leading up to the church.
(A pharmacy in the film)
Here she spots the pharmacy that played a pivotal role in her and her husband’s escape from house arrest.
This leads into another flashback where we eventually follow the two of them as they flee the pursuing Nazis after going through to the back of the pharmacy.
Initially, they emerge down a short flight of steps onto the street. This is still Sankt-Ulrichs-Platz and actually an entrance to the church diagonally opposite the pharmacy itself.
(The couple run around this corner)
Their escape route is shot as a continuous piece but involves locations scattered across town.
For example, we soon see them running along the Mölker Stieg in the 1st district…going from the Schreyvogelgasse end to the steps down to Schottengasse.
Forced to turn back, Maria runs along the elevated road above Schreyvogelgasse with the University of Vienna visible in the distance. This would take her past an old residence of Beethoven.
(Maria sprints up here)
Our heroine then appears running down the pavement outside the Wien Museum MUSA where the Nazi parade took place earlier.
Maria nips into a building, reunites with her husband, and the chase continues.
They leave the building using the staggered iron and wooden staircases found in the Semperdepot on Lehárgasse (a long way from the MUSA): a popular event venue and part of the Academy of Fine Arts.
Back to the modern world…after hearing the news form the restitution committee, Maria, Randol and Hubertus discuss matters on the west side of the Staatsoper, where the standing room ticket office is.
In the hotel, we get a view down over the Albrechtsbrunnen wall fountain.
(The memorial lists the names of concentration camps on its plinth)
The second site of Vienna’s Jewish Museum actually lives behind the memorial.
(Almost the same shot as in The Woman In Gold)
After a long series of scenes back in the USA, Randol returns to Vienna, and the filmmakers treat us to a couple of shots of notable locations:
- The Justizpalast with the dome of the Naturhistorisches Museum behind
- The Athena statue in front of parliament with the tower of the Rathaus behind
- The Neue Burg again
Konzerthaus and Riesenrad
(The Konzerthaus, where Randol and Hubertus buy tickets for a Schoenberg concert)
Randol then walks with Hubertus discussing the arbitration panel that has been created to resolve matters. They find themselves passing the Konzerthaus. Perhaps the subsequent shots of a Schoenberg concert also come from within.
Maria then appears in the subsequent arbitration scene. She, Randol and Hubertus await news of the decision on the Kaiserwiese meadow in front of the Riesenrad giant ferris wheel: a regular star of the small and big screen.
Then, in the final exterior Vienna scene, Maria and Randol walk past the old home on Frankgasse again.
THE END (as they like to say in the movies).