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I saw this series for the first time in 1992 when it was on Polish TV but I have come back to it many times with great pleasure since then. THE STRAUSS DYNASTY shows the lives of Johann Strauss father and then his sons, the most famous of whom was Johann Strauss son, called Schani.
The whole story is shown with the focus on family life of the Strausses and their career. Their music, the unforgettable waltzes, can be appreciated throughout. I especially like the scene in Paris where Johann Strauss presents his new waltz "An Der Schonen Blauen Donau". At first, no one seems to be keen, but later.... Other moments worth considering are the ones showing Schani's journey to Russia.
Besides, you can find very good cast in this series. The main roles are played by Anthony Higgins (famous British actor) and Stephen Mc Gann (who can be found in many J. Chomsky's films). Among others, Alice Krige is excellent in the role of an insane Olga, Cherie Lunghi also performs very well as Schani's wife, Yetti and an unforgettable John Gielgud. He isn't given much time on screen as old Drechsler, but is equally unforgettable as in his great roles. Nevertheless, he is excellent, as always. John Rhys Davies gives a wonderful performance as prince Gribov: these facial gestures, the way he speaks (consider a funny moment he describes Russia to Schani just before signing the contract concerning Schani's journey). And Lisa Harrow as Mama Strauss is unforgettable. She appropriately presents a woman of strong will, ambition, and of a good heart. Definitely, the acting in this series IS of very high level!
There are many other factors that make this film worth watching. Many scenes are touching, especially the end when Schani is sitting on his armchair and coming back to important events in his life. He sees his father, his brothers, his childhood, the women he loved. When his memory comes to the current events, he closes his eyes and dies. I know that it may seem strange and longish, but Marvin J. Chomsky, most probably, aimed at showing people's belief - when we die, we see our lives.
But the most important factor that talks for the mini series, I think, is the music itself. The director makes a perfect use of it, entailing it in most of the scenes as a background. The lovers of the waltzes will absolutely love the film.
The effect of THE STRAUSS DYNASTY is similar to their music. As a famous orchestra director, Riccardo Muti, said on the 1st of January 2004 in Vienna: "The music of Strauss unites the whole world". THIS SERIES DOES A SIMILAR JOB. Do watch it. You will not regret.
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