The likeable and carefree Grand Duke of Abacco is in dire straits. There is no money left to service the State's debt; the main creditor is looking forward to expropriating the entire Duchy... See full summary »
The likeable and carefree Grand Duke of Abacco is in dire straits. There is no money left to service the State's debt; the main creditor is looking forward to expropriating the entire Duchy. The marriage with Olga, Grand Duchess of Russia, would solve everything, but a crucial letter of hers about the engagement has been stolen. Besides, a bunch of revolutionaries and a dubious businessman have other plans regarding the Grand Duke. With the intrusion of adventurer Philipp Collins into the Grand Duke's affairs, a series of frantic chases, plots and counter-plots begins... Written by
Eduardo Casais <email@example.com>
A multi-part story of a grand duke who has run out of money. He is being pushed by wealthy to men to sell off certain property, but he fights back through an alliance with a foreign woman.
Some have made something of the homoerotic opening with boys swimming, especially with Murnau being gay. I will not comment on it further than just to mention it here.
The film specifically referenced paintings, which is no surprise -- Murnau was an art historian. It has been said some directors view film as artists and some as cameramen. Murnau was an artist. This works well, and it is added to by the fact the sets were painted with shadows rather than using lights. A similar technique was used in "Caligari" by Weine's set designers... was this a strictly German invention? Allegedly, only half the original film exists today. Yet, the part that does exist still makes complete sense. Odd. Also allegedly, the anti-Semitism is toned down from the book, even though the character of Markovitz remains. The book is not available in English so this would be hard to verify. The inclusion of any anti-Semitism strikes me as odd, though, as I believe there were Jews working on the set.
While the big name here is director Murnau, pay attention to actor Max Schreck (better known from Murnau's "Nosferatu"), and notice this script was adapted by Thea von Harbou, the wife and creative partner of Fritz Lang.
David Kalat's audio commentary is brilliant and he ought to write a book on Murnau, though he does play down the role of Oscar-winning cinematographer Karl Freund, which is a mistake.
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