Mayerling to Sarajevo

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Director Max Ophuls managed to get three productions before the cameras in 1940, the best of which was De Mayerling a Sarajevo. In his characteristic pageant-like fashion, Ophuls traces the fall of the Austro-Hungarian empire by spiritually linking the tragic 19th century romance of Crown Duke Rudolph and Baroness Maria Veretsa to the 1914 assassination of Archduke Ferdinand and the subsequent outbreak of WW1. According to the film, Ferninand (played by American actor John Lodge) was no slouch in the romantic department himself; but unlike his predecessor Rudolph, the Archduke is permitted to marry his mistress (Edwige Feuilliere), who thereby becomes the Duchess of Hohenberg. Mistrusted by his aristocratic peers because of his progressively democratic notions, Ferdinand seems destined to be martyred at the hands of his enemies, in much the same way that Rudolph's non-royal impulses brought about his demise. One of Ophuls' favorite cinematic devices, the "court dance", is cunningly utilized in De Mayerling a Sarajevo when the lovers are prevented from attending a palace ball, symbolizing the irreparable schism between the modernistic Ferdinand and the hidebound Hapsburgs-and also presaging the deaths of the Archduke and his Duchess. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi


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