Essential Art House: Mayerling
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UPDATE (2011): I have just seen part of the Criterion DVD of "Mayerling" online, and while the sound is far from perfect, it has been greatly improved. You can hear all of it, and it no longer fades in and out like a badly tuned radio.
Crown Prince Rudolf von Hapsburg of Austria marries against his will to another royal; the marriage quickly goes sour, and he turns to drinking and partying. Eventually he meets an innocent girl half his age and falls in love with her. But because of who he is, he cannot get a divorce, and because of who she is--an underaged girl with an overprotective mother--they can never be together. Eventually they give up on a happily-ever-after and settle simply for an "after."
I've always had a liking for Charles Boyer, and he's in fine form as the unhappy archduke. The police are constantly following him; his own father has it in for him; he can't catch a break. The girl in question, played by Danielle Darrieux (whom I have not seen before) was radiant as Marie. Anatole Litvak directed. This is a 1936 movie so of course it's in moody black and white, and the lighting is creative and used to great effect. One more thing to think about...this was a mere 47 years after the events described.
But, what's funny is to watch this movie, immediately followed by the Audrey Hepburn-Mel Ferrer version of 21 years later. It's almost a scene-for-scene remake.
This begins in 1883 Vienna. A band marches by. Franz Joseph receives visitors. They talk about the rioting students, inflamed by the writing of Szeps (a liberal). Szeps is a friend of Prince Rudolph. Force will be used to gain respect. Cavalry chase down people on the streets. [An echo of the disturbances in Paris?] Many are arrested and brought before the police, including Szeps. One of these is Rudolph of Hapsburg! He will marry for dynastic reason. [Such inbreeding can cause problems, as with the Tsarevich.] Two detectives watch who visit Prince Rudolph years later. Rudolph is bored at his party. The police are watching him and plan to arrest Szeps. That gypsy sings for the police too. Rudolph visits a music hall and watches dancing men. Then he sees a young woman arrive unescorted. They watch a play. Punished for love? There is a game with swans. She tells him he looks like Archduke Rudolph!
Rulolph learns the police want to arrest Szeps, but he got away. Count Toofe visits and they talk. They want to protect Rudolph. Rudolph visits His Majesty, who is not receiving visitors. Everyone bows to him. "Poor prince!" Rudolph will attend the opera tonight. Little Vetsera is there. They watch a ballet. Rudolph watches Vetsera. [Watch their facial expressions.] Schratt is with the Emperor, like Mme. Pompadour to King Louis XV. Rudolph meets Marie Vetsera in church. He wants to see her again. A visitor brings a message to Marie. She gets advice on behavior from Countess Larisch before meeting Rudolph. [Were love affairs the pastime of the nobility?] Marie is different from the others, she wants nothing. They are watched, this romance must be ended. A letter is written about the meetings. The police watch Rudolph. Marie's mother gets that letter and rebukes her.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Very disappointed. Mayerling is my favorite ballet. The movie failed on every level.... Sex, drama, intrigue, tension. Maybe it would be better if I understood French. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Marilyn Conroy
I was disappointed in that it was in French. I expected to see it in English.Published 14 months ago by Candace Dainty
One of the best movies ever made. Forget all the copies. A timeless drama. If you care to read the history of his times, you will understand his desperation. Read morePublished 20 months ago by boisegirl
I am a movie freak and when it comes from the 1930's or 1940's I go goofy for Coco-Pops. See it.Published on June 24, 2014 by Matein
This version of suicide events is a little more believeable than
the VHS version with Omar Sharif and Catherinre Deneuve
if only because in real life the ill fated... Read more
my mother saw this years ago and is thrilled to see it decades later and it was watchable quality wise I am told by my mother.Published on February 6, 2014 by aliengtr