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Had this film been produced in America there can be no doubt that Emil
Jannings would have collected the 1935 Oscar as best actor for his role
as Frederick William I of Prussia. His performance was simply
mesmerizing. Every scene is illuminated by his presence and the impact
of his delivery makes one rethink the whole history of this much
Known as the 'Soldier King', Frederick William has often been dismissed as an authoritarian ogre; an archetypal Prussian whose absolute rule terrorized his Court and his family. But the truth is certain to be more detailed than such a basic caricature. There was an honorable and well designed purpose to his ruthless authority and this production allows us to learn and experience that wisdom through the eyes of his more famous son, Frederick II (the Great).
Of course the restrictions of 1935 Nazi Germany prevented the clear depiction of young Frederick's homosexuality but allusions to it are clearly made. When standing before his father many years after the execution of his lover, young Federick reminds the old king of his torment. "Every night and every day I see Katte before me Your Majesty" explains the Crown Prince, "in fact he stands between us now." Wonderful stuff. A must see for all students of German history.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Boy! was Emil Jannings a very mean, tough king,Friederich Wilhelm.The plot was that The king of Prussia was trying to make a man out of his oldest son,Crown Prince Fritz, played by Werner Hinz,who looks a little like Horst Kaspar. His mother is played by Leopoldine Konstatin, who played the lesbian suggestively in the 1936 Un Du Mein Fahrts Mit,as Sophie Dorothee,I think there was a Technicolor British film about Queen Sophie but I forgot the title.But the Situation is out of her hands between her son and husband.Add German stalwart character actors like Albert Florath,in a white curly long hair wig ,as the minister.George, or Gayorgee, Alexander as a sissy type Prince,of Bayreuth, Wearing a Red Curly long hair wig, far from the Valentino style he wears normally. The king hates this.Later on the prince shown up at the kings smoke and get drunk club with is friends,as more of a macho Prince,with a white ponytail wig,Who gets blasted in the party.Add Paul Henckels ,who show up later in the show and you got a round U.f.a. cast.The king is so mad at his Son just wanting pleasure, instead of being a King.He has his friend Hans Katte, played by Claus Clausen,"Katie went to Haiti"!",who's a lieutenant.He trick his son to sigh for his friends execution.In real life the kings son was gay and that was his lover. Even with change the film maker took a risk in being sent to a concentration camp exploring male intimacy, which Hitler opposed.Frederick Kayssler, of the German version of so long at the Fair,Stolen Tracks,plays Katte's father.He is heart broken to be forced to agree with the execution.Fritz ends up bending to his fathers will.Emil was good as the mean king of Prussia.Yet this character could be gentle.Werner's character in the beginning is tough against his father,but later turns into wimp.This is one of th many propaganda films that are legal in Germany.Cause from their stand point it very subtle 04/20/12
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