Several years ago I had to write liner notes for the video of this film
probably the hardest job of my life. Why? Because there really was
absolutely nothing to write about. The performances? Mediocre at best. The direction? It makes Canadian daytime TV look imaginative. The writing? Oh boy, the writing...
Not having read Hans Koening's novel, it's hard to tell why anyone thought there was a movie here: having seen the film, you'll have no wish to pick up a copy to find out. Ostensibly a fictionalised account of Gavrilo Princip, the Serbian student who shot Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife in Sarajevo on 28th June 1914, providing the trigger for Bismarck's 'balance of terror' (a web of complex international alliances) to turn into World War One, the film is merely a series of conversations in cafes or fields between badly-realised stereotypes. It doesn't so much have dialogue as occasional noise, the words never really amounting to much. Yet you hold on waiting for something to happen - some sense of people caught up in history, of idealism turning into a nightmare. But nothing happens. Nothing. At all. Astonishingly, you don't even see the assassination (maybe they ran out of money - the film looks very, very cheap).
There's some interest in the scenes between Princip and Philippe Leotard's prison doctor, but not much - again, the script fails to make an impression and the cast are left with little to work with.
Trust me, this one is an absolute dead loss, one of those rare films that is beyond redemption.
Oh, and if you're wondering, I ended up ignoring the film completely and writing an account of the actual assassination. Well, it seemed only fair, as anyone buying the video would otherwise be left without a clue as to who this schoolboy actually was...
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