From Mayerling to Sarajevo Screen 5 articles

From Mayerling to Sarajevo

1940

From Mayerling to Sarajevo Poster
  • Assembled like there was no time to lose, the movie is nevertheless distinctively Ophülsian, taking great grace with spaces and character, and allowing Feuillère to charm our pants right off. For M.O. junkies, it's a necessity.

  • The affairs of the heart have always been just as important as the affairs of the State to Ophüls, and the film is arguably his most explicit in juxtaposing personal romance and political history, with both the couple's emotional passion and Ferdinand's progressive ideals equally oppressed by the rules of a corseted society.

  • Ophüls contrasts the authentic grandeur of inner nobility with the crushing formalities of royal presumption. In his vision, the unyielding passion that binds Franz Ferdinand and Sophie together gives rise to breathlessly splendid gestures—of defiance or self-sacrifice—that soar above the petty protocol of imperial spectacle. The director’s lavish eye for the pomp of power is untinged with nostalgia; his vision of the era begins with a phony press release and ends in disaster.

  • Archduke Ferdinand, whose assassination in Sarajevo triggered World War I, is a benighted historical figure. Rendered the reluctant heir apparent to the Austro-Hungarian throne by his cousin’s suicide at Mayerling, he is resurrected in Max Ophüls’ under-appreciated, splendidly written, filmed and acted French political romance as a grim visionary.

  • The court’s chief lackey remarks that where other countries go to war to solve their problems, Austria solves theirs with marriages. No better political policy could so deeply ensconce this odd, nebulous but provocative and gorgeous melodrama. It is a reminder that in this film and others, while Max Ophüls may seem to curl up into the past and melancholic romance, romance can indeed be considered its own form of war.

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