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The Crown Prince
The Crown Prince
Actors: Max von Thun, Vittoria Puccini, Omar Sharif, Klaus Maria Brandauer, Christian Clavier
Director: Robert Dornhelm
Genres: Drama
NR     2007     3hr 2min

Indelibly linked to the Mayerling tragedy, the story of Crown Prince Rudolf still evokes mystery and conspiracy, thwarted hopes and unfulfilled love. After entering into an unhappy marriage of convenience, the young heir t...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Max von Thun, Vittoria Puccini, Omar Sharif, Klaus Maria Brandauer, Christian Clavier
Director: Robert Dornhelm
Genres: Drama
Sub-Genres: Drama
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen
DVD Release Date: 11/06/2007
Original Release Date: 01/01/2006
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2006
Release Year: 2007
Run Time: 3hr 2min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 2
SwapaDVD Credits: 2
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 10
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

Mere beside-the-point eyecandy
MartinP | Nijmegen, The Netherlands | 01/19/2008
(2 out of 5 stars)

"The story of the final decades of the Habsburg empire is a haunting one, the 600 year old dynasty rushing to an ignominious end amidst family strife, mental illness and personal unhappiness. Empress Elizabeth ("Sisi") and crown prince Rudolf are among its more intriguing characters, and the story of the latter's suicide has great film potential. But that isn't realized here. On the contrary, one feels the production team has been grappling with stuff way too dark and complex for both their abilities and intentions. Rudolf is portrayed as a slick playboy who suffers from sudden bursts of interest in revolutionary politics and then, inexplicably, starts shooting morphine, and kills himself. Only the barest inkling is conveyed of his deeply troubled relationship with his mother, whom he worshipped, only to be ignored by her in favour of his younger sister. We do not get any sense of his sharp intellect and significant scientific efforts, nor of the mechanisms that slowly turned his quiet melancholia into self-destructive despair. Even his political leanings are explained only in the most superficial manner (the prince walking in on a scene of Dickensian squalor in a Prague slum); in actual fact it was a volatile mix of revenge on his forbidding father and a remarkably astute, almost prophetic assessment of the empire's dire prospects. Nor do we get a real feeling for the callous, arrogant egotist Rudolf most certainly also was. This was a man who kept a `register of conquests', meticulously detailing characteristics of each lady, with entries in red ink denoting virgins. In the film, much is made of the silver cigarette box he gives Helene Vetsera; in fact he handed those out as a souvenir to his each and every mistress (the fact that the inscription varied very precisely in accord with the social rank of the lady also makes short work of Rudolf's supposed democratic leanings).

This production is insuperably saccharine, ponderously slow and plagued by amateurish acting (and badly glued moustaches to match). Don't be fooled by the gratuitous moment of nudity barely 15 minutes in: this is nothing but a very expensive episode of Beverly Hills 90210. The involvement of historian Brigitte Hamann must have been a token affair, for you can't even trust all the factual details to be right. Opportunities to show the real life drama are missed at every turn. The fateful conversation in which the emperor tells his son he doesn't think him fit to succeed actually took place, but wasn't nearly as quiet or civilized a meeting as shown here. In fact, Rudolf's shouting could be heard in the anteroom, and Franz Joseph was so overcome with emotion that he fell into a swoon. The makers have romanticized even the double suicide itself. The servants outside hear two gunshots in quick succession, as if the act were carried out as intended. In actual fact, after shooting Mary, Rudolf fell prone to second thoughts, and it was not until after a night of heavy drinking that he eventually shot himself the next morning. One of his letters of goodbye intimated that he no longer wanted to, but was left with no choice, as he had now become a murderer.

Silliness is not entirely avoided. Rudolf and Prussian crown prince Wilhelm are constantly visiting brothels, apparently for the sole purpose of engaging in heavy-handed politico-historical debate. Sandra Ceccarelli exerts herself to look like a tormented Elizabeth but merely succeeds in making you think she needs to visit a dentist. To make sure the viewer knows what is going on, characters are explaining the obvious to each other over and over again with great insistence.

How much better could this have been if the makers had refrained from sugercoating the real story. How much more alive would it have been had something of Rudolf's relation with his sisters been shown, and his infatuation with `mad' King Ludwig II of Bavaria. How much more might have been conveyed of the stifling ceremony of the Viennese court - even the 50s "Sisi"-movies succeed in getting that right. How much more of the weirdness of it all might have been captured had something of the bizarre aftermath been included (Mary's corpse was whisked away from Mayerling in a coach, in the dead of night, all dressed up and tied to a broomstick to make her sit upright and seem alive to overly curious passers-by. Two nights after Rudolf's burial superstitious Elizabeth descended into the Kapuzinergruft and tried to conjure up the spirit of her dead son. When at another séance she was told that he dwelled in a place `worse than hell', she was devastated.)

None of that. All we get is eye-candy. Most of the film was shot at the appropriate historical locations, and the costume department has visibly outdone itself to squander its share of the 11mln euros available. Enough to feast the eye on. The casting director has made sure this goes for the lead characters too; Jeremy Irons look-alike Max von Thun certainly is a lot easier on the eye than the real Rudolf was, and in order not to disguise the fact he has to make do without the beard that Rudolf always wore (he needed it to camouflage the nervous twitching of his face). In all, this is a missed opportunity and frankly a waste of your time.

Great period piece! Excellent acting!
Harry Livesay | Houston, TX | 12/31/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"A very, very, good mini-series that captures the 'Belle Epoque' period prior to World War I and of its most interesting figures, Crown Prince Rudolph of Habsburg. The very handsome and very talented Max Von Thun portrays with great skill the frustrating life of Prince Rudolph and his battles against the politically oppressive regime of his father, Emperor Franz Josef and Austrian Prime Minister Taaffee. Klaus Maria Brandauer's portrayal of the stodgy and ultra-conservative Emperpor Franz Josef is historically very accurate and Sandra Ceccarelli is visually capativating as the ill-fated Empress Elizabeth (Sisi). The only bit of miscasting is the role of Maria Vetsera by blonde-beauty Vittoria Puccini. While Puccini's characterization reflects Vestera's life-long infatuation with Rudolph that lead her to her tragic end at Mayerling, Puccini does not have dark and mysterious features that so captivated the actual Prince Rudolph. Omar Shariff, who played Crown Prince Rudolph in the 1968 film 'Mayerling', heads an excellent supporting cast that makes this two-part series a "crown jewel"."
Lovely to Look At; Three-and-a-half Stars!
F. S. L'hoir | Irvine, CA | 03/13/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Despite the considerable flaws aptly noted by other reviewers, I enjoyed watching this self-described mini-series, merely for the magnificent costumes and the splendid settings (both interior and exterior). I was thoroughly entertained and did not feel that I had wasted my time. As for the lack of historicity, well, "The Crown Prince" certainly beats Hollywood's "The Illusionist" (which I enjoyed immensely, even though it made an historical mincemeat out of the same Hapsburg era); and the film has inspired me to read more on the subject of this fascinating, tragic, and very dysfunctional royal family, the Hapsburgs.

If your cup of tea is costume drama and you are not too picky about history, "The Crown Prince" will deliver 180 minutes of gorgeosity; and the attention to scenic detail will also explain such minutia as why the Vienna State Opera House has that rather ungainly projected arched facade: It was for carriages to drive under to deliver their elegant charges to the great front doors. One never knows what one might learn from an elegantly produced movie set in such beautiful locations as Vienna and Prague."
John J. Schauer | Chicago, IL USA | 03/04/2008
(2 out of 5 stars)

"While I don't share MartinP's low accessment of Crown Prince Rudolph's character--perhaps we've read different historical accounts--he is dead-on in saying that this production is mere eye candy. With a large budget, access to historical sites and lavish costumes, this could have been an insightful and moving account of Rudolph's tragic life. Instead, it feels like a Danielle Steel costume epic that sort of echoes historical events. One is forced to wonder how much of the story is made up for the sake of drama: there is an unbelievable "Prince and the Pauper" episode in which Rudolph goes out among the common folk in disguise and falls in love with the young daughter of a Jewish baker--where in heaven's name did that come from? And they stage Rudolph's and Mary's meeting as a Cinderella-at-the-ball fantasy, when in fact Mary's campaign to conquer Rudolph's heart was a carefully planned and orchestrated series of events. Even the 1969 Omar Shariff/Catherine Deneuve film "Mayerling" felt closer to the mark. If you want a genuinely gripping and well-documented account of the events surrounding Rudolph's suicide with beautifully drawn detail of Viennese life in 1888-89, you'd be much better off seeking Frederic Morton's brilliant book titled "A Nervous Splendor," readily available through the Amazon Marketplace booksellers."