Prince Nikki, Lieutenant of the Guard in pre WWI Vienna, is flat broke, but the only advice he gets from his parents is either to shoot himself or to marry money. During the Chorpus Christi parade his horse accidentaly hurts poor Mitzi, the daughter of inn-keepers in a Viennese suburb, who is, according to the wishes of her parents, going to marry the butcher Schani. When Nikki visits her at the hospital, they fall in love, much to the dislike of her parents and Schani. Nikki's parents, meanwhile have arranged a prospective marriage with Cecilia, the limping daughter of a very rich non-aristocratic industrial. Due to the fact, that Nikki's father is a general in the Austrian-Hungarian Army, resitance is useless. When Mitzi, after hearing of it, is still refusing Schani's proposal, he vowes to shoot Nikki when he leaves the church. Written by
Stephan Eichenberg <email@example.com>
Copies of the film were few and rarely shown, until Erich von Stroheim was shown the French copy at the Cinematheque Francaise by Henri Langlois in 1954. Von Stroheim was able to give editing instructions, thanks to which Kevin Brownlow was able to restore this film to the director's cut, using the color segment of the Corpus Christi procession, material found only in the USA version and the copy at the Library of Congress Film Archive, and also restoring it to the 24 fps speed. See more »
In its entirety an Erich Von Stroheim creation. See more »
Once more Von Stroheim formulates a sharp rejectance towards the declined empire of the Habsburg monarchy in Austria, where marriages for financial reasons are discussed in whorehouses, where noble lovers disdainfully seduce and then leave simple girls from the commons. The dramaturgic constellation is sentimentally done, but the staging is all the more furious and aggressive. The humiliations of the socially inferior class depicted in this film (i.e. Mitzi has to help at the preparations for the wedding of her lost love) cannot be seen as emotional insertions, but as an evidence for the commonly thoughtless brutality of the nobleness, which is not only facing people of the lower classes, but women in general at that time. It's a good, highly artistic, socially involved film, hacked to pieces by the studio bosses
the fate of every monstrous work by this incredibly visionary
director, Von Stroheim.
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