Although it's hard not to make comparisons with the Ernst Lubitsch/Ramon Novarro masterpiece of 1927, this much earlier silent version of "The Student Prince" has a special charm all its own. With a running time of just over 30 minutes, it's a very compact telling of the tale. The early scenes, with the prince as a boy, are excellent and given extra impact by the menacing presence of Erich Von Stroheim as the prince's valet. His performance is almost expressionistic in style.
Later the prince is played by the excellent Wallace Reid, and his great love by the disarmingly innocent Dorothy Gish. They make a great team, and the scenes of fun and love-making at Heidelberg are terrific.
Standing in stark contrast are the brutal, and sometimes spectacular, scenes of war (though I suspect some of the long shots were stolen from "Birth Of A Nation" - D.W. Griffith produced "Old Heidelberg" too). What is especially notable is the anti-war sentiment, expressed at a time when World War 1 was raging in Europe. Two years later, when America entered the war, such sentiment would not have been allowed.
All in all this is a vivid little gem from the early days of cinema, that is well worth a look.
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