From Mayerling to Sarajevo

In this film about the love affair of Archduke Franz-Ferdinand (played by the American John Cabot Lodge) and Czech Countess Sophie Chotek (Edwige Feuillère), who marry against the wishes of the court and are later assassinated at Sarajevo, Ophuls relishes the absurdity while delighting in the elegance of court life-and of his own camerawork, fluidity describing a rigorous repression. Robin Wood called the film “not only among the most neglected, but among the finest, works of Max Ophuls. (It) is of particular importance in its explicit extension of the Ophulsian viewpoint to the world of politics: while its consciously defined political position falls within the bounds of progressive liberalism (its lovers are destroyed by a pincer-movement of reactionary and revolutionary forces), its vision of love as in itself a revolutionary force is far more radical.”

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