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In 1809, while Napoleon is near Vienna, the duke of Valois ( Herr Ludwig Rethey ), aspiring to the throne of France and exiled in Austria, plots against the usurping Emperor. The son of the duke, Franz ( Herr Karl Lamac ), is in love with Dame Agathe Klähr ( Dame Anny Hornik ) and asks his father for his consent to the marriage, but he refuses it. Desperate, both youngsters commit suicide. The brother of Dame Agathe, Herr Medardus ( Herr Victor Varconi ), is seduced by the duke's mistress, Helene ( Dame Agnes Esterhazy ), who wants to use him as the instrument of her vengeance against the Valois family.
By then the Napoleonic troops enter in Vienna, soon in flames, and Helene incites Medardus to kill Napoleon...
That's the plot of "Der Junge Medardus", a film directed by the Hungarian Herr Michael Kertész ( afterwards Curtiz in Amerika ) in the silent year of 1923. Of course it includes aristocratic family conflicts ( the usual ones, that is to say, murders, vengeance; the kinds of things that aristocrats like so much ), based on Herr Arthur Schnitzler's oeuvre.
The film is a historical film production which means historical events are seen as important as aristocratic favourite subjects with their complicated feelings about primal sentiments. It was an important Austrian big budget film production as can be seen in many carefully recreated battle scenes and elaborate sets but except for aristocrats, money doesn't mean success The film lacks emotion; it seems that Herr Kertész is more interested in illustrating historical events in a documentary fashion, using a static camera that films almost everything in long and medium shots; thus the action scenes are out of the action ( a terrible film incongruity ). Besides that, one has the feeling, especially during the first half of the film, that Herr Kertész is hurrying events. Such poor direction just does not involve the audience in the battle scenes or the court conspiracies. The film includes also just adequate performances, including Napoleon himself ( even though that French emperor has a tendency for grandiloquence ) leaving to be admired only Herr Eduard von Borsody und Herr Gustav Ucicky cinematography. Due to the many important persons involved in the oeuvre and its big budget,, it should have been an artistic success but instead it's just an interesting failure.
And now, if you'll allow me, I must temporarily take my leave because this German Count has Napoleonic affairs to do.
Herr Graf Ferdinand Von Galitzien http://ferdinandvongalitzien.blogspot.com/
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