Thursday, May 7, 2009

De Mayerling à Sarajevo (aka Sarajevo)

(1940, Fr, 95m, b/w)
d Max Ophüls p Eugène Tucherer sc Carl Zuckmayer, Marcelle Maurette, Curt Alexandre ph Curt Courant, Otto Heller ed Myriam, Jean Oser pd Jean d’Eaubonne m Oscar Straus cast Edwige Fieullère, John Lodge, Aimé Clariond, Jean Worms, Debucourt, Raymond Aimos, Gabrielle Dorziat, Gaston Dubosc

The opening title assuring historical accuracy, followed by hordes of nameless mittel-European officiaries, bodes ill for this tale of the run-up to WWI, made in France in the run-up to Occupation. Heir thanks to his cousin’s suicide at Mayerling, Franz Ferdinand and his modern ideas are kept in check by the Emperor, but an undesirable marriage is cautiously permitted. The wider political climate remains disappointingly sketchy, sharing screen-space with the languid love affair between Lodge’s straight-backed but romantic Archduke and a charming Edwige Feuillère as his morganatic wife. Ophüls conjures a couple of dreamy Romantic moments, but the fire is stifled by a feeling of historical chess-pieces being maneuvered into place.

© Time Out Film Guide

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